Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I briefly mentioned Coquette almost two years ago. It still doesn't seem to have been released to DVD, so you're going to have to catch one of its relatviely rare showings on TCM. In fact, one of those showings is coming up tomorrow morning at 6:45 AM ET. (Do you think I'd mention it otherwise?)

Mary Pickford plays southern belle Norma, who flirts with a lot of different guys. Some of those guys, her father doesn't like. This causes a problem when one of those young men, Michael (played by Johnny Mack Brown) gets in a heated dispute with Norma's father, with the result that Dad shoots the young suitor dead.

Fast forward to the trial. Dad can probably get off thanks in part to his station in life, and thanks in part that his daughter is the only other person who really knows what happened. Will she save her father's honor, or will she tell the truth...?

Coquette is quite the melodrama, and a movie that gets remembered today largely because Pickford won the Best Actress Oscar for it. That fact is largely down to talking pictures being in their infancy, with a large part of Hollywood not knowing how to adapt their techniques to making movies that could talk. To be fair to Pickford, she does an adequate job, in a role that's really more of a museum piece than anything else. The rest of the actors try as well, but Coquette really shows the work-in-progress state of Hollywood at the time: there just weren't that many good talkies out there until about the beginning of 1930. If you do want to see an outstanding performance in a very early talking picture, you might want to track down a copy of Disraeli (also not on DVD); if you want to see Mary Pickford at her finest, you might want to try the movie that I really blogged about when I first mentioned Coquette, that being her silent movie Sparrows.

No comments: