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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

SUDS (1920)

Mary Pickford chose carefully when she was starting up her production unit at United Artists (her own money was on the line) & her second film successfully reprises one of the two characters she portrayed in STELLA MARIS/'18; the strikingly tragic figure of 'Unity,' but this time worked out in comic, sentimental guise. SUDS tells an episodic tale of a London laundry slavey who's too ugly to be loved. And if it just misses first-tier status, it’s still a handsome production with more than its share of clever bits. (Plus a couple of deeply disquieting sequences, including a harrowing near end for Mary’s beloved horse at the glue factory. He visibly shudders in fear as the gun is raised.) Three endings were shot & Mary let the audience choose (the worst one), ditching her obvious rapport with fellow 'slavey' Harold Goodwin for a more upscale romantic match. The DVD has a fine new score to accompany the grainy American release & a not-so-hot organ one on the far superior Euro-edition. Go figure.

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