Here’s something fun to talk about. This one’s not so much about the movie as much as it’s about the star system. One of the most important parts of film history and classical Hollywood.
When films began, you really had no idea who was in them, and people weren’t even credited. Most people didn’t even differentiate the faces in the film, only watching the characters. But then, at a certain point after 1908, right when D.W Griffith started his run at Biograph, people began to notice a certain face appearing in a lot of the films. She was Florence Lawrence. And Biograph, refusing to give out her name, caused people to simply refer to her as “The Biograph Girl.” Which was basically the early version of the “It” girl. She became insanely popular as The Biograph Girl, and eventually built a career out of that popularity.
Now, cut to Mary Pickford. Mary Pickford started working for Biograph, playing bit parts and lead roles, depending on the films, from age 16. Very quickly, she understood that film acting was a different style than stage acting, and as such turned in naturalistic performances. Making her a favorite of D.W. Griffith. Not only that, with the amount of films that were churned out, she was playing all sorts of roles – different races, ethnicities, social types. In one week, she could play a slave, an older matriarch, and a prostitute. (more…)