Tag Archives: Mary Pickford

Clarence Brown’s Legacy in Films


Brown and Jarman Jr. on the set of The Yearling,Courtesy of Claude Jarman Jr.

Though he crafted films that garnered thirty-eight Academy Award nominations, Brown is not as well remembered as many of his contemporaries. Historian Gwenda Young hopes to change that with the publication of Clarence Brown: Hollywood’s Forgotten Master, the first full-length biography of the seminal director. She recounts his upbringing as the son of hardworking Irish immigrants, as well as his work with stars such as Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, and Mary Pickford, which created his reputation for introducing new discoveries as well as revitalizing fading careers. Throughout his long tenure behind the camera, Brown defied expectations to create a lasting body of work that spanned Hollywood’s silent and golden eras.

Over the course of a five decade–long career, Brown directed numerous films that have stood the test of time—The Last of the Mohicans (1920), Anna Christie (1930), Anna Karenina (1935), The Human Comedy (1943), National Velvet (1944), The Yearling (1946), and Intruder in the Dust (1949), among others. Here, we have given you a look into a selection of Brown’s “starmaker” credits, of which have been remembered for defining Hollywood for decades.

The Great Redeemer, Maurice Tourneur Productions, 1920

The Last of the Mohicans, Maurice Tourneur Productions, 1920

The Foolish Matrons, Maurice Tourneur Productions, 1921

The Light In the Dark (short), Vitagraph Company of America, 1922

Don’t Marry for Money, Weber & North Productions, 1923

The Acquittal, Universal Pictures,1923

The Signal Tower, Universal Pictures, 1924

Butterfly, Universal Pictures, 1924

Anna Christie

Anna Christie, MGM, 1930

Smouldering Fires, Universal Pictures, 1925

The Goose Woman, Universal Pictures, 1925

The Eagle, Art Finance Corporation, 1925

Kiki, Norma Talmadge Film Corporation, 1926

Flesh and the Devil, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), 1926

The Trail of ’98, MGM, 1928

The Cossacks (uncredited), MGM, 1928

A Woman of Affairs, MGM, 1928

Wonder of Women, MGM, 1929

Navy Blues, MGM, 1929

Romance (uncredited), MGM, 1930

Inspiration, MGM, 1931

A Free Soul, MGM, 1931

Possessed (uncredited), MGM, 1931



National Velvet

National Velvet, MGM, 1944


Emma, MGM, 1932

Letty Lynton, MGM, 1932

The Son-Daughter, MGM, 1932

Looking Forward, MGM, 1933

Night Flight, MGM, 1933

Chained, MGM, 1934

Anna Karenina, MGM, 1935

Ah Wilderness!, MGM, 1935

Wife vs. Secretary, MGM, 1936

The Gorgeous Hussy, MGM, 1936

Conquest, MGM, 1937

Of Human Hearts, MGM, 1938

Idiot’s Delight, MGM, 1939

The Rains Came, Twentieth Century Fox, 1939

Edison, the Man, MGM, 1940

Come Live with Me, MGM, 1941

The Met in Bombay, MGM, 1941

Sadie McKee

Sadie McKee, MGM, 1934

The Human Comedy, MGM, 1943

The White Cliffs of Dover,MGM, 1944

The Yearling, MGM, 1946

Song of Love, MGM, 1947

To Please a Lady, MGM, 1950

The Schumann Story (short), MGM, 1950

It’s a Big Country: An American Anthology, MGM, 1951

When in Rome, MGM, 1952

Their First Misunderstanding featuring Mary Pickford

America’s Sweetheart

With the Oscars approaching more and more quickly, it’s easy to forget about how much film has evolved over the past century. What used to not even exist in film is now arguably the most important aspect of it. What sets a fantastic film apart from its competitors is often the dialogue and writing, not the special effects.

In the early days of cinema, when actors were unbilled and films were silent, audiences immediately noticed Mary Pickford. Moviegoers everywhere were riveted by her talent as she rose to become cinema’s first great star.

mary p

During a time when women weren’t known for their careers, Pickford became a pioneer in the film industry as both an actor and a producer. She co-founded the film studio United Artists with fellow film greats Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, and Douglas Fairbanks. The studio continues to be a major success today, with blockbuster actors like Tom Cruise as clients.

show me the money

Labeled one of the American Film Institute’s (AFI) 50 Greatest American Female Screen Legends, Pickford’s contributions to film have been heavily researched and treasured.

“Their First Misunderstanding”, a 1911 film starring Pickford, has recently been found and restored thanks to a curious carpenter digging through an old New Hampshire barn. Christel Schmidt, an eminent Mary Pickford scholar and editor of UPK’s book, Mary Pickford: Queen of Movies, discusses the significance of this finding with Public Radio Exchange (PRX) at this link.

Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies by Christel Schmidt

Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies by Christel Schmidt

Pickford was one of the original founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, most often known for that small show they put on once a year called the Oscars.


So it’s thanks in part to her that we get to cheer on our favorite actors and films and watch their hilarious reactions to losing awards.

HBC funny

Celebrate Mary’s achievements and contributions to film by going to our website and ordering Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies. This beautifully designed volume features more than two hundred color and black and white illustrations, including photographs and stills from the collections of the Library of Congress and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Together with the text, they paint a fascinating portrait of a key figure in American cinematic history.


Also, be sure to check out some of our other books in the Screen Classics series on our website. Other notable Oscar faces like Victor Fleming, Jack Nicholson, and Maureen O’Hara have been featured in this series.


Continue the tradition started by Mary and her colleagues by watching the Academy Awards on March 2nd.


An Academy Awards Tribute to the Queen of the Movies

Our giveaway is done and a winner has been selected (congratulations, Richard S.!), but we thought we would leave you with something to watch while you prepare for the 85th Academy Awards tonight—Mary Pickford receiving an honorary Oscar:

Thanks to everyone who entered our contest! Stay tuned for another giveaway next week. (Hint: Curious about Kentucky barbecue specialties like mutton and burgoo? Dying to know which joints are serving up the smokiest meats and most mouthwatering sides? Hungry for humorous tales from the pitmasters who regularly serve great stories with their pulled pork? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’ll want to enter to win next week.)

Take Two: Behind the Scenes with Pickford, Chaplin, Fairbanks, and Griffiths

As an actress, Mary Pickford had many personas. Ranging from the winsomely beautiful to the almost unrecognizable, even grotesquely plain, and playing the parts of child, adolescent, mother and everything in between, she emerged from the other actors at Biograph to become the first real star and the begetter of what would become the star system. More than just an incredibly versatile actress, Pickford was a leader in the solidification of the Hollywood film industry, co-founding both her own distribution company, United Artists in 1919, and acting as a founding member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1927.

In this charming and candid video that captures the “between takes” of the historic formation of United Artists in 1919 with Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, and D.W. Griffiths, we get to see Mary Pickford in her other role: that of businesswoman. Already a star and producer, her co-founding of United Artists marked her transition to distributor, a move that continued to show her public and the men in Hollywood that she was a both a formidable businesswoman as well an incredible acting talent.

Enjoy this special clip that shows us the lighthearted comradery of the silent film giants who were part of an incredibly important moment in film history!

P.S. Don’t forget to enter this week’s cinema-themed giveaway, Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies by Christel Schmidt. Enter by Friday at 1PM for your chance to win!

When the Talkies Came to Town

mary-pickford-poor-little-rich-girl-19171929 was a year of transition for the Academy Awards. After the First Academy Awards ceremony honored The Jazz Singer, the film that revolutionized the previously silent-film-dominated industry, the Awards turned its attention to talkies in its second season. Silent film stars like Mary Pickford, confronted with these new films and the new women many of them featured, attempted to hold out, keeping their hair long for fear of alienating their fan bases. Yet Hollywood had already declared these old-fashioned girls passe and embraced bobbed actresses who epitomized the flapper, such as Colleen Moore, Clara Bow, and Joan Crawford.

excerpted from Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies by Christel Schmidt

“In Coquette (1929), Pickford’s onscreen persona–cultivated by the actress for two decades–was completely transformed. Gone were her trademark curls, and with them the illusion of youth they had helped create. Her stylish new bob revealed a mature woman, now in her late thirties, who suddenly seemed too old to play the modern girl. Gingham frocks and tattered dresses were replaced by strappy silk gowns that exposed her bare shoulders and knee-lencoquette-postergth skirts that revealed her shapely legs. She even adopted a flirtatious manner, batting her heavily made-up eyes.

The dramatic changes to Pickford’s image were a serious challenge for her fans, and the addition of sound complicated matters. Coquette, the actress’s first talking picture, introduced her voice, which was small and had a reprimanding tone, making the star seem even more unfamiliar. Still, the film had an immense curiosity factor and became her biggest box-office success. Pickford won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Coquestte–an honor that likely recognized her career achievements more than her work in the film itself.”

Don’t forget to enter our giveaway for Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies by 1 PM Friday, February 22!

Countdown to the Oscars: Mary Pickford Giveaway

ImageThis week, we’re giving away a copy of Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies by Christel Schmidt. Respond by Friday, February 22 at 1:00 pm for your chance to win!

This Sunday, the 85th Academy Awards will be broadcast live to an estimated 40 million viewers.Though every year, countless films make their mark on American audiences, the Academy will honor only twenty-four at most. Today, there is no end to the number of actors who will star in blockbuster films each year as part of the multibillion-dollar-a-year industry that is Hollywood. Though today, films are part of our day to day, Hollywood and the history of film is still somewhat recent.

From the 1910s, 20s, and 30s, silent film star Mary Pickford was involved in more than two hundred films during her career as an actress, writer, and producer. Pickford was the co-founder of United Artists, the first independent film studio, along with her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, and film legends Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith. As America’s first “Sweetheart,” Pickford’s success left and indelible mark on early cinema, paving the way for future women in film and ushering in Hollywood’s golden age.

This week, the University Press of Kentucky is giving away a copy of Christel Schmidt’s Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies to one lucky entrant.

In this engaging collection, copublished with the Library of Congress, an eminent group of film historians sheds new light on this icon’s incredible life and legacy. This beautifully designed volume features more than two hundred color and black and white illustrations, including photographs and stills from the collections of the Library of Congress and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

This week, we’ll be featuring this stunning book on our blog and will give away one copy to a lucky winner. To enter our giveaway, fill in the required fields below with your name and contact information. We will randomly select one winner on Friday, February 22 at 1:00 pm.

Good luck everyone!