Spoilers. Observations. Opinions.
In those days, children were dealt with way more cruelly than they are today (so we hope). Children were beaten, starved and treated like slaves, and this was from their own parents! Children had to work too hard, some dying early of illness and injuries. Youngsters in many cases were not valued or treated well, except in the films about spoiled rich kids with twelve gazillion servants attending to their every beck and call.
In the times after World War One, the 1920s, the world was supposed to be so prosperous and rolling in money. The Market Crash of 1929 was not upon us yet, much less the Great Depression. Have we heard of poor people in the cash-rich twenties?
Actually, postwar society is supposedly engulfed in a recession. The military jobs and paychecks have gone to oblivion, and the families who formerly thrived upon such income have gone straight to the proverbial poorhouse.
Enter this story. Poor parents (the Roaring Twenties, no less, with supposedly F. Scott Fitzgerald-type wealth soaked up by EVERYONE) cannot afford to feed and clothe their children, much less educate them. These parents have agreed to turn over their progeny to the turns-out-evil Mr. Grimes, who must have promised to lovingly care for the little darlings!
Mr. Grimes is a horrible monster. The children are meant to become chattel property for him, to use as he pleases as farmhands and general flunkies. An older child, portrayed by our Miss Mary Pickford, is caregiver for the children. She is plucky and resourceful, and tries to keep the youngsters from additional harm.
Question: Are all viewers Christian? No. Jesus doesn't appear to Muslims, Jews or Buddhists. This part is prejudiced toward other potential audience members. Are people forced to be Christian? There is a strong message here, that it is the only way to be -- the way, the truth and the life, as it were. Non-Christians may have stayed away as audience, preferring not to buy tickets to this religious-message-proselytizing effort. America, the Great Melting Pot, drew immigrants of many religions besides Christianity. I am still giving this film a 10, however.
The villains are ugly and evil; they are hissable, and I am hissing. They are sneering, violent and nasty. Evil has to be beaten by good, and eventually the mighty Jehovah beats the Devil at his own game. Do the alligators get some human treats for their lunch? Is there retribution for the ghastly and sinful errors of the antagonists?
I have a degree in American History. Through the 19th and early 20th centuries, children were forced to work many hours a day on farms, in coal mines or selling newspapers. Many were kept out of school. Cruelty to children goes way back. It still exists today. Today, however, a child can get on its cell phone and call Children's Services if the parent/caregiver so much as touches a hair on its little head. Fostering children still has some cruel monsters, with young ones going from cruel parents to even more idiotic foster "parents".
I have also studied different types of philosophy and ethics. Good is supposed to win over evil. Good times feel better after people have gone through unbelievably terrible predicaments. Children today may not have a Queen Mary Pickford to lead them through the swamp.
Why is there evil? That is a standard philosophical question. Evil exists to make people appreciate the good. Maybe this was Mary Pickford's entire message and goal: to show that the bad guys get what's coming to them, and the good guys live happily ever after ... :)
Action / Drama
Action / Drama
Evil Mr.Grimes keeps a rag-tag bunch orphans on his farm deep in a swamp in the US South. He forces them to work in his garden and treats them like slaves. They are watched over by the eldest, Molly. A gang in league with Mr. Grimes kidnaps Doris, the beautiful little daughter of a rich man, and hides her out on Grimes' farm, awaiting ransom. When the police close in, and Mr. Grimes threatens to throw Doris into the bottomless mire, Molly must lead her little flock out through the alligator-infested swamp.
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January 28, 2014 at 06:42 AM