Black and white movies are a tough sell to kids these days, but Milestone is tackling an even tougher sell: silent films. With "Rags to Riches: The Mary Pickford Collection," Milestone hopes to introduce kids to silent movies.
It's the first-ever release designed to introduce young viewers to silent movies, and each film includes a short intro featuring a group of kids who discover a treasure trove of old films in an attic and learn about film history in the process. Each film also features a separate audio track with spoken intertitles to help them get over the hump.
The collection will be released on Blu-ray and DVD November 6 to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Pickford's birth. Milestone will also release "Cut to the Chase: The Charley Chase Collection" on DVD on November 6.
Included in the Pickford collection are "Sparrows," "The Hoodlum," and one that was selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, "Poor Little Rich Girl."
Here's the release from Milestone:
October 15, 2012 — Mary Pickford is known today as the first film actress to achieve international super stardom. Funny, feisty and diminutive, she was also the first actor to have complete artistic control of her films. And because Pickford chose to work with the best directors, writers, craftsmen and editors, what incredible films they are. These three titles, newly mastered with full orchestral scores, demonstrate the star‘s commitment to excellence and the brilliant range of her acting.
Ernst Lubitsch called "Sparrows" ”one of the eight wonders of the world” and it still ranks as a masterpiece of Gothic suspense. Deep in the Southern swamps, the Grimes family operates a baby farm where unwanted or “lost” children are cruelly underfed and overworked. When the children are threatened, Mama Mollie (Pickford), the oldest of the kids, leads her troop through an alligator-infested swamp in one of the most harrowing escapes in cinema history. This version comes from the restored tinted 35mm from the Library of Congress. This is its first time release ever on Blu-Ray.
"The Poor Little Rich Girl" features Gwendolyn, a lonely child who is neglected by parents who chase after wealth and social status. Given an accidental overdose of dangerous sleeping potion, the young girl feverishly dreams wild adventures, culminating in meeting Death itself. The Library of Congress selected Maurice Tourneur’s masterpiece, combining fantasy and macabre drama, to the National Film Registry. This marks its commercial debut on video.
In "The Hoodlum," Pickford is the pampered and ill-tempered Amy Burke, a young woman who lives with her wealthy grandfather in a New York mansion. Bored with her posh surroundings, she decides to try slumming with her sociologist father in an East Side tenement —with hilarious results! This version comes from the Academy Film Archive’s 35mm restoration. It also makes its commercial debut on video. Rags and Riches marks the first-ever release designed to introduce younger viewers to the pleasures of silent films. Each film includes an optional short intro featuring a group of kids who discover a treasure trove of old films in an attic and learn a lot about film history in the process. Each silent feature also has an optional audio track with spoken intertitles and explanations to help them enjoy the experience even more!
Disc 1: "The Poor Little Rich Girl." 1917. 75 mins. Director: Maurice Tourneur. Music composed and conducted by Philip Carli, performed by the Flower City Society Orchestra. Also: commentary by film historian Scott Eyman and home movie from Pickford and Douglas Fairbank’s legendary Hollywood home, Pickfair.
Disc 2. "The Hoodlum." 1919. 92 mins. Director: Sidney A. Franklin. Orchestral Score by Bonnie Ruth Janofsky, performed by the Rouse Philharmonic, conducted by Hugh Munro Neely. Also: Mary Pickford in Ramona (1910. 17 mins.)
Disc 3: "Sparrows." 1926. 90 mins. Director: William Beaudine. Score by Jeffrey Silverman, performed by the Rouse Philharmonic, conducted by Hugh Munro Neely. Restored by the Library of Congress. Also, an original 1926 trailer, the “Angel” outtakes, a video interview with Mary Louise Miller's daughter Louise Paziak, and commentary by film historians Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta.