HEART O' THE HILLS
starring Mary Pickford and Harold Goodwin
MOTION PICTURE CLASSIC
Mary Pickford contributes a mellower and more legitimate characterization in "Heart o' the Hills," (First National), adapted from a tale of the moonshine mountain folk by the late John Fox, Jr., than in any of her vehicles for some months. Here she has a role slightly more mature than has been her wont recently, the character of a fiery, untamed girl of the Kentucky hills. And Miss Pickford plays it with an infinite variety of shadings and nuances, despite the triteness of the romance. Harold Goodwin does the mountain boy lover admirably.
HEART OF THE HILLS
Starring Mary Pickford
When he made the jigging scene in this colorful dramas of the midland mountains, director Franklin -- perhaps quite unconsciously -- vouchsafed one of the best episodes that the screen has seen in this or any other year. Like most of the things that count, this scene is simple, and is built upon the simplest subjects: the infectious, almost orgiastic dancing of a group of mountaineers in a log cabin, rhyming their steps to "Turkey in the Straw," wheezed out upon a decrepit violin. The old man, the mountain boy, the mountain girl, then the city fellow, and then everyone mingle in this mad festival of stepping competition. It was interesting to watch the great audience which saw this picture with me catch the spirit of the uncouth dance; they too were swept along on its jerking phrases like Ethiop converts in a dusky camp-meeting. And the finale! That moment in which "grandpap" flings his arms aloft and cries a stentorian "Stop!" And why? "I done lost my false teeth!" Here is a merry episode perfectly rounded at the finish in a flash of uproarious human farce. The photoplay as a whole is quite the best of the many stories of the Kentucky and Tennessee mountains to come to moving vision in the past year or two. It is a simple, generally unstable tale, but it is told with such conviction, with such simplicity, and with so many gentle little asides that it moves one in a way than many a better piece, less skillfully manipulated, is unable to do. Also it is worth mentioning that it reflects the spirit if not always the exact literary letter of John Fox Jr. Mary Pickford herself, as the wild little Mavis Hawn, once more enters into her physical descriptions with the fury of a novice who has everything to gain and nothing to lose -- and the painstaking care and cunning detail of the celebrated performer who has everything to lose and very little to gain: altogether, an unbeatable combination of talents. Superb characterizations are given by Sam De Grasse and Claire MacDowell -- the latter, especially, convincing and even thrilling -- as Martha Hawn, a dull-eyed, slow-witted female, who, in spite of her cruelty, her selfishness and her cunning, still feels the remorse that inevitably comes to a heartless mother and a treacherous wife. Let us mention, also, Fred W. Huntley as the inimitable Grandpap Jason Hawn -- a sturdy old man who just must have lived.
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