United Artists

Mary Pickford (Molly), Gustav von Seyffertitz (Mr. Grimes), Charlotte Mineau (Mrs. Grimes), Spec O'Donnell (Ambrose), Roy Stewart (Dennis Wayne), Monty O'Grady (Splutters), Mary Louise Miller (Wayne's baby), Jack Lavine, Billy "Red" Jones, Muriel McCormac, Florence Rogan, Mary McLain, Sylvia Bernard (the children).

Molly is an orphan who lives a very harsh life with several other younger orphans on a baby farm located deep in a southern swamp. The baby farm is run by the evil Mr. Grimes, his wife and his stepson, Ambrose. Ambrose is Molly's constant nemesis, throwing things at her, fighting with her, picking on the younger kids and always trying to get Molly in trouble with his parents for the slightest deviance from any of the rules of the farm.

One of those rules is that anytime a visitor rings the bell at the large, stockade-type gate, Molly and all the children must run to the barn in which they live, close the doors and hide. In this way, Mr. Grimes keeps anyone from the outside world knowing about his dealings.

One day, by accident, a visitor who has come to buy a hog sees one of the children, Splutters, a stuttering little boy of about 10 years of age. Grimes explains that the boy is an orphan, and he is graciously providing a home for the poor child. The visitor says he needs a boy like that to pick "pertaters," to which Grimes replies, "How much would you give me for him." "He ought to be worth about half what I paid for the hawg," the man says, at which the deal is closed.

Later we see Grimes reading a note from some fellow conspirators who plan to kidnap a baby and want Grimes to hide the child on his baby farm while they extort the ransom. When Mrs. Grimes complains, Grimes brushes her off with, "It means money, lost of money."

Molly cares for the children as if they were her own, one of whom is a small baby. Conditions are hard for the children as they work in the garden each day and must make do with makeshift beds and whatever they can scrape together for comfort in the loft of the barn. One day when Molly is caught stealing potatoes, she and the children are punished by taking away their supper. That same night, the baby has a fever and dies.

Shortly after this, the kidnapped baby is brought to the farm and is given to Molly to care for. She readily takes the child and loves her as her own.

Grimes doesn't realize the baby belongs to a prominent, wealthy bachelor, and the police have formed an intensive search which begins to produce results. They eventually locate Splutters, the little boy who was sold for half the price of a hog, and he tells them of a baby farm deep in the swamp.

Later, Grimes reads about the kidnapping in the newspaper and how the "net tightens" in the search for the child. In fear of being caught, he goes plans throw the child in the quicksand to remove any evidence. Ambrose brags about his father's intentions to Molly, so, when Grimes arrives, Molly fights him off with a pitchfork.

Realizing she must escape the farm, Molly and the children take the boards out of the back of the barn, then lay them and several stuffed sacks across the quicksand and make their getaway into the swamp. When Grimes finds out what they have done, he goes back to his wife and laughs. He figures if the quicksand doesn't get them, the alligators will.

It is at this time the crooks arrive saying they must have the baby to collect the ransom. Grimes and the two kidnappers head out to Moss Creek Road where Molly and the children must end up if they are successful in their escape. Because of the information from Splutters, the police and the child's father are headed to the baby farm by way of Moss Creek Road.

In a harrowing ordeal, Molly and the children make it through the swamp with several close calls, one in which a rotting limb is about to drop them down into a mass of alligators. Seeing car lights coming down the road, they run to a boathouse and hide inside a large boat. The crooks are having a gunfight with the police and commandeer the boat to escape. Grimes, who has run into the swamp to escape the police, falls into a bog of quicksand and ends his life.

Molly and the children hide in the cabin of the boat as it speeds away with the harbor police firing on it constantly. The crooks eventually abandon the boat leaving it to run wild. However, the harbor police catch up with it and find the children on board, all unharmed.

The baby is returned to its father, but after one night, he realizes the baby is not happy without Molly around. When he invites Molly to live with him and care for the baby, she says she can't because she must take care of the other children. So, after considering for a moment what this may mean to his quiet home, he consents to have Molly and nine children live there promising to build a new wing on the house to accommodate them all.

copyright 2001 by Tim Lussier, all rights reserved

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