Sparrows

1926

Action / Drama

53
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 88%
IMDb Rating 7.5 10 978

Synopsis


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January 28, 2014 at 06:42 AM

Cast

Mary Pickford as Molly
720p
749.87 MB
1280*720
English
Unrated
23.976 fps
1hr 50 min
P/S 0 / 2

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by blaackbird 10 / 10

I couldn't tear myself away... I just had to know what happened to those kids!

I usually ask myself why people want to watch movies filled with suffering. Challenges, yes, agony, no. But where kids are involved I guess I'm a sucker. I have to see it come out all right.

Mary Pickford looks almost as young as her character in this gripping film about a group of orphans held as slave labor by a cruel farmer. The story itself is a natural hook. Like many of the works of Charles Dickens, it paints the picture of the innocent suffering at the hands of people who embody every possible vice and who are capable of every imaginable cruelty.

One most touching quality of the film is the portrayed ability of Molly, in the face of all she endures, to draw together the group as a family and love each one as a mother should. Self-pity is alien to her. Life is what it is but there's always hope for better and the cruel blows don't change that or make it untrue.

I saw that the ending did drag on in the sense that it isn't quite as snappy a resolution as a viewer would want. But I found that after seeing them endure so much, I wanted to see something of their happy ending. I shared in the pain, and wanted to share in the joy as well. And so I feel that it ended rather more like the books it resembles and not like a modern thriller. The boat scenes did go a bit astray, but were mercifully short compared to other parts.

A horrifying tale with a surprising note of humor and sweetness that somehow worked, this film is well worth watching.

Reviewed by Ron Oliver ([email protected]) 10 / 10

Marvelous Mary In Her Final Little Girl Role


A spunky orphan girl, enslaved on a horrible baby farm, looks after the younger children as tenderly as Christ cares for His little SPARROWS.

Mary Pickford, America's Sweetheart and the most popular movie star in Hollywood's history, had made a career out of playing little girls in general & orphans in particular. Her legions of international fans thrilled at her adventures in harsh orphanages, dealing with stony-hearted adults. Time relentlessly marched on, however, and it became obvious that Little Mary could not carry on the adolescent act forever.

Thus, in 1926 at the age of 34, Pickford appeared in her final orphan picture and she made sure it was a doozy. Never before had one of her characters been subjected to such hideous conditions, surrounded by quicksand, starved & overworked, living at the mercy of a self-avowed baby killer - a reptilian old reprobate who doesn't hesitate to `chuck children into the swamp' whenever he feels like it. Mary's audiences ate it up like sweet molasses on hot cornbread.

Several sequences are memorable. The selling of a little boy to a hog-buying farmer sets up a remarkably poignant shot: as the little fellow is driven out of the gates of the baby farm he feebly waves farewell towards the barn, where Mary & the other children remain hidden; poking through cracks & crevices in the wooden structure several hands sadly wave back. Later, the coming of The Good Shepherd for the dead baby cradled in Mary's arms would have been maudlin in less reverent hands; here it succeeds because it is presented with true emotion. Finally, the escape & chase across the swamp, with desperate Mary leading eight tiny children through the perils of mud & crocodiles, is still as exciting & suspenseful now as it was at the film's inception.

Gustav von Seyffertitz makes a marvelously hissable villain; abetted by his vile wife & unspeakable son, old Grimes is evil to his very core. His final fate is both just & emphatically well-deserved.

SPARROWS boasts very high production values, and although burdened with a couple of climaxes too many, Mary's lively performance should effortlessly win over the toughest of critics.

Reviewed by aimless-46 10 / 10

A Nice Gift From the Past for Lemony Snickett Fans

United Artists in the mid-1920's stood outside the motion picture industry's block booking system. It owned no theaters and did not have enough films to offer them in blocks. This meant each of the UA producers (Griffith, Fairbanks, Chaplin, and Pickford) had to finance each film individually; not an easy thing with the rising costs of producing long features. While Griffith was digging himself into a big hole (which would ultimately cost him his production company) making epic films and trying to top his early successes, Pickford prudently operated on a smaller scale. The irony being that she produced the type of folksy stuff that Griffith had once done so well and so profitably.

"Sparrows" was her last appearance as a teenager; her choice because even in her thirties she would have been physically believable in these roles for a couple more years. Most often described as "Dickensian" because of its gloomy feel and slightly off-kilter production design, "Sparrows" is the original "Series of Unfortunate Events". It is regarded as the least dated of her pictures (maybe of all silents), fitting because it does not seem at all dated. Even the humor seems contemporary with little Molly misquoting bible verses with stuff like: "Let not thy right cheek know what thy left cheek is getting".

"Sparrows" is also more perennially appealing than any silent film. In fact you have to go all the way until 1933's "It Happened One Night" to actually supplant it. But it is a serious subject as baby farms are a historical fact and wealthy parents had reasons to fear kidnapping. The kidnapping in "Sparrows" has an eerie similarity to that of the Lindbergh baby, which would not take place until seven years "after" the film.

The "look" of the film reflects the German expressionist style and should delight Lemony Snicket fans and anyone who gets off on creepy-strange beauty. Set designer Harry Oliver "aged the tree stumps with blowtorches, and the entire picture has that netherworld quality of a slightly stylized environment that could only be created in a movie studio". Watch for the early scene where the baby farm operator crushes the little doll and drops it into the quicksand where it slowly disappears.

You also see a lot of Pickford's technique in Hal Roach's "Little Rascals". Check out the sequence when Little Splutters is leaving and his imprisoned friends are waving goodbye from inside the barn, by passing their hands through the slats. In fact Spec O'Donnell, who plays nasty stepson Ambrose, would later be a Roach regular. He is responsible for the film's first big laugh when he beans Molly with a turnip while she is trying to get the baby to stop crying. It is totally unexpected and even the baby finds it funny.

Also of note is the dream sequence where Jesus comes to take the baby to heaven. Modern special effects could not improve on what they got using a simple matte exposure process. A similar technique worked so well with the swamp scenes that a legend grew up that Pickford and the children were actually at risk from the live alligators used in the scenes. Probably no silent managed a more genuinely suspenseful sequence than when they are crossing a rotting tree limb which is slowly cracking and dipping toward the water full of hungry alligators.

Gustav von Seyffertitz does great as the evil Mr. Grimes (an early Snidley Whiplash) and is one of the best bad guys to come out of the silent era.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.

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