Cast & Crew
Alfred E. Green
The widow of Captain Errol, youngest son of the Earl of Dorincourt, and her young son, Cedric, live in New York City in the early 1880's barely able to subsist. The earl, how heirless, commissions his solicitor, Haversham, to bring young Cedric from America to be trained for the title of Lord Fauntleroy. When they arrive at the castle, the mother (Dearest), wrongly accused of marrying for pecuniary reasons, is forced to live outside the castle while Cedric with his innocent and childish wit captivates the earl and wins the hearts of his royal guests. Haversham appears with a woman who claims that her son is the nearest relatives of Bevis, the eldest son, and she demands the title for him. When New York papers print the story with photographs, Cedric's friends--Dick, Hobbs, and Mrs. McGinty--journey to England to expose the conspiracy. The earl is overjoyed at the news, and there is a reconciliation between Dearest and the earl; all three live happily together in the castle.
Madame De Bodamere
Little Lord Fauntleroy on DVD
Little Lord Fauntleroy, the novel, was published in 1886 and was an immediate success. A rowdy son of the pavements is forced to wear his hair in long curls, a tribute to his late father's locks when he was a boy. He is unaware that his father was one of the sons of the Earl of Dorincourt, disowned when he married beneath him. However, when the Earl's other son dies, the Earl sends for the American lad who now must be groomed to be a member of the British aristocracy.
Mary Pickford plays a dual role in the movie, both Cedric, the boy who becomes Lord Fauntleroy, and his mother. Naturally she would seem to be equipped for only one of those roles, but, despite having to strap down her bosom to play the child, does an excellent job with both. Pickford's movie was famous in its time for all the special effects necessary for Mary to play both roles within the same shot. Cameraman Charles Rosher handled the effects, mostly through split screen, but there are some effects that are startlingly impressive even in this age of CGI effects. Near the beginning of the film is a shot, analyzed by Kevin Brownlow in his excellent documentary Hollywood (1980), where Mary the child kisses Mary the adult on the cheek. Another effect that would escape all but the most observant is one where the child, stage right, talks to the mother at the center of the screen. Just when you think it is a standard split image, the child walks behind the mother to continue the conversation on the other side of the screen, all within one shot.
Keeping track of the effects is difficult because the story is so involving. More than other Pickford titles, this is wonderfully entertaining in the classic 19th Century storytelling manner. The sets and locations are expensive and well-photographed and the performances are perfect, especially Claude Gillingwater as the hard-hearted Earl softened by his growing affection for his American grandson.
This new DVD, produced by The Mary Pickford Institute and Timeline Films, is also beautifully presented. The print is very high quality for a movie now 86 years old and it has been paired with a new orchestral score by Nigel Holton that is one of the most lush and moving scores written for a silent film. Little Lord Fauntleroy should be a first choice for anyone wanting to rediscover the charm and vitality that made Mary Pickford one of the 20th Century's greatest stars.
For more information about Little Lord Fauntleroy, visit Milestone Film & Video. To order Little Lord Fauntleroy, go to TCM Shopping.
by Brian Cady
Little Lord Fauntleroy on DVD
In scene in which Little Lord Fauntleroy meets Dearest (both parts being played by Mary Pickford) the kiss-on-the-cheek cut took 15 hours to film and lasts 3 seconds on-screen due to the complexity of the multiple exposures. To ensure stability between takes, the camera used by cinematographer Charles Rosher was weighted down to the tune of close to a ton.
For information on other films based on the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel, please consult the entry for the 1936 United Artists release Little Lord Fauntleroy, directed by John Cromwell and starring Freddie Bartholomew and Dolores Costello in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40.