Cast & Crew
Marshall A. Neilan
In the tenements of Clothes-Line Alley, bartender Terry McGowen courts cigarette girl Amarilly Jenkins. When wealthy sculptor Gordon Phillips is injured in a brawl at her café, Amarilly takes him to her flat where her mother, an Irish laundress, tends his wounds. In gratitude, he hires Amarilly to clean his studio. Gordon's aunt, Mrs. Stuyvesant Phillips, hoping to make Amarilly the subject of a social experiment, takes the girl into her palatial home. To her consternation, Mrs. Phillips realizes that Gordon is falling in love with Amarilly. To illustrate the folly of such an alliance, Mrs. Phillips invites the entire Jenkins family to tea, where Mrs. Jenkins performs a lively jig with the butler. Amarilly and Gordon discover that they are not made for each other, and Amarilly returns to Terry and true happiness.
Marshall A. Neilan
Amarilly of Clothesline Alley
Gordon Phillips (Norman Kerry) and his socially conscious aunt Mrs. Stuyvesant Phillips (Ida Waterman) adopt Amarilly as a kind of charity case, convinced they can take the clothesline alley out of her and make her into a proper lady. "What an interesting specimen!" the haughty Mrs. Phillips remarks upon meeting Amarilly, much to the girl's outrage.
Amarilly of Clothesline Alley (1918) flies in the face of a long tradition of films in which girls from humble backgrounds are whisked off Cinderella-style to the rich man's world. Instead, Amarilly chooses her gritty, beloved Clothesline Alley and family over the stuffiness and intolerance of the Phillips' life. As she tells Phillips, it's best not to "mix ice cream and pickles."
Several reviewers found that break from tradition refreshing with one critic noting that "at last we have the joy of a different ending. The story of a poor girl who, although offered all the advantages of a fine education and a wealthy marriage, has the good sense to realize that she will be a deal sight happier in her own middle class, married to the Irish lad she loves."
Former actor turned director Marshall Neilan was known for his talents as a woman's director. He went on to many successful collaborations with Pickford on Stella Maris (1918), and Daddy Long Legs (1919) and the pair worked extremely well together. In an essay "Acting for the Screen" about the assorted virtues aspiring actresses could assume for screen success, Neilan identified Pickford's personality as her strong suit: "She has something that irrespective of looks or age or anything else, will live on. She has personality. " Pickford was equally enamored with Neilan, despite his propensity for drunkenness and turning up for work inebriated. Still, Pickford said, "to my way of thinking, he was the best director ever, better than the great D.W. Griffith."
Amarilly is all the more interesting for what it shows of what was permissible for films of the time in depicting the reality of inner-city life. In one scene Amarilly's beau Terry is led by a group of young rapscallions to a brothel, but unlike the others, decides not to enter the house of ill repute. Those atmospheric touches were undoubtedly the work of another constant Pickford collaborator Frances Marion, the multitalented screenwriter who maintained a long and devoted friendship with Pickford. The pair sent each other flowers on every birthday and holiday. Like Pickford, Marion was a workhorse who found great delight in her film work and wrote 325 scripts in every genre over the course of her distinguished career.
Director: Marshall Neilan
Producer: Adolph Zukor
Screenplay: Frances Marion based on a novel by Belle K. Maniates
Cinematography: Walter Stradling
Production Design: Wilfred Buckland
Music: Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
Cast: Mary Pickford (Amarilly Jenkins), William Scott (Terry McGowan), Norman Kerry (Gordon Phillips), Ida Waterman (Mrs. Stuyvesant Phillips), Kate Price (Mrs. Jenkins), Margaret Landis (Colette King), Thomas H. Wilson (Bosco McCarty), Fred Goodwins (Johnny Walker).
by Felicia Feaster