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A Good Little Devil (1914)

Charles MacLance, a mischievous little boy sent to live with his cruel aunt, Mrs. MacMiche, takes his happiness from the make-believe world of fairies which he has created with Juliet, a ... See full summary »

Directors:

Edwin S. Porter, J. Searle Dawley (uncredited)

Writers:

Rosemonde Gerard (play), Maurice Rostand (play) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Mary Pickford ... Juliet
Ernest Truex ... Charles MacLance - a Good Little Devil
William Norris William Norris ... Mrs. MacMiche
Iva Merlin Iva Merlin ... Betsy
Wilda Bennett Wilda Bennett ... Queen Mab
Edward Connelly ... Old Nick, Sr.
Etienne Girardot ... Old Nick Jr.
Ernest Lawford Ernest Lawford ... A Poet, Poor Fellow
Laura Grant Laura Grant ... Marian
Dennis Cleugh Dennis Cleugh ... The Solicitor from London
Joseph A. Wilkes Joseph A. Wilkes ... The Doctor from Inverary
Robert Vivian ... The Lawyer from Obar
Arthur Hill Arthur Hill ... Rab, the Dog
David Belasco ... Himself
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Storyline

Charles MacLance, a mischievous little boy sent to live with his cruel aunt, Mrs. MacMiche, takes his happiness from the make-believe world of fairies which he has created with Juliet, a little blind girl. When Charles' aristocratic grandfather dies, however, he is sent away to an expensive school, in preparation for his adult life as a lord. As he grows up, he forgets Juliet and his make-believe friends, and becomes engaged to a fashionable society girl, but the soul of his former self leaves him to rejoin the good fairies. Meanwhile, Mrs. MacMiche has come to believe in fairies, and in her new goodness, she asks Charles to come and live with her again. At first reluctant, Charles soon resurrects fond memories of the past. Juliet, whose sight has been restored, helps him to complete his change, and he asks her to marry him. In the end, the couple live happily with Mrs. MacMiche in their fantasy world. Written by Pamela Short

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on play | See All (1) »

Taglines:

Juliet's Heart Call To Charles Through The Darkness See more »

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 March 1914 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Based on the play with the same name, which premiered January 8, 1913 at Belasco's Republic Theatre. Produced by David Belasco, the play also starred Mary Pickford. See more »

Connections

Featured in Mary Pickford: A Life on Film (1997) See more »

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The leading lady didn't like this movie, but I sure did
5 September 2006 | by wmorrow59See all my reviews

Mary Pickford began her career as a touring stage actress at the age of seven, and was still only fifteen when she made her Broadway debut in 1907 in a play called The Warrens of Virginia. A couple of years later she found work in the movies for director D.W. Griffith at Biograph, and soon became a prominent member of his company. By 1913 she'd appeared in well over 150 short films for Griffith and others. That year, with her fame on the rise, she chose to return to the stage in the role of a blind girl in a rather strange vehicle entitled A Good Little Devil. This play was a melodrama with elements of mysticism and the supernatural, probably influenced by the great success of such fantasies as Peter Pan. The play's producer was the famous showman David Belasco, whose name was more familiar to the general public at the time than either Pickford's or Griffith's. (And in a small supporting role in this show, making her own Broadway debut, was the still-unknown Lillian Gish!) Not long after the play ended its run in May of 1913, Miss Pickford repeated her role of Juliet the blind girl in a film adaptation of the play, the first feature-length movie of her career, although not the first to be released. The director was yet another notable figure, Edwin S. Porter, who made a number of landmark films in the first decade of the 20th century, including the smash hit The Great Train Robbery. However, by this stage of his career Porter was no longer an innovator, and his films looked old-fashioned and stodgy compared to Griffith's dynamic work. Pickford felt that Porter mishandled A Good Little Devil, and within a few years of the movie's release proclaimed it "one of the worst pictures, if not the worst picture, I ever made."

Recently, the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York, hosted a festival of restored films featuring Mary Pickford. The 12-minute fragment of A Good Little Devil shown at the festival is apparently all that remains of this intriguing milestone of theatrical and cinematic history. When the full version premiered in March of 1914 it began with a prologue featuring David Belasco himself introducing the show, but unfortunately this footage no longer survives. Interestingly, however, the fragment that remains tells a reasonably complete story in itself, as if someone edited the full-length film into a one-reel 'highlights' version. The plot and character relationships are not entirely clear, but the gist of the piece comes across.

The story concerns a young man of Scottish background named Charles MacLance, who is apparently the victim of pride and a swelled head. He no longer deigns to associate with his family, boyhood friends, or the down-home folk from his village, but instead dresses like a titled Englishman, and hangs out with haughty aristocrats. Meanwhile, he is missed by his desperately sick mother -- played by a man in drag! -- and his true love Juliet, a blind girl who cares for the old woman. As Charles sits brooding before the fireplace his "conscience" appears in visible albeit ghostly form, when his younger self, wearing a kilt, rises from his body and confronts his corporeal self. Wracked with guilt, he returns to his village, visits the old lady and has an awkward reunion with Juliet. He is also greeted joyfully by the family dog -- played by a man capering about on all fours in a dog costume. Charles' return to the village seems to unleash magical spirits: winged fairies appear and restore Juliet's sight, then restore the old lady to full health. (In the stage production Lillian Gish played one of the fairies, but she's not in the movie.) When Charles' snobby friends come to take him away he renounces them, in fiery words of amusingly purple prose, and chooses to stay with the simple, honest villagers of his youth.

The abridged version of A Good Little Devil shown at the festival was greeted by the audience with sympathetic chuckles. I could see why Mary Pickford considered it something of an embarrassment, for she'd been making more sophisticated films than this one at Biograph for years. Still, while it is quite primitive, the movie is rather sweet, and Mary had nothing to be ashamed of where her own performance was concerned. The man in the dog outfit was a real crowd-pleaser, though we all wondered why the old lady was played by an obvious transvestite. In any event, even in its truncated form Edwin S. Porter's A Good Little Devil is an intriguing curio for silent film buffs and kind of a hoot, besides.


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