Once upon a time there, there was a tiny, little girl with long, golden locks... She was baptized Gladys Marie Smith, but is later renamed Mary Pickford. Little Mary had an imagination so great, nobody she would encounter, could envision such things! Mary had a little sister, Lottie, a baby brother, Jack, and a Mama, Charlotte. Their Papa abandoned them and at only age seven, Mary declared "I can shovel snow Mama, and pay all the bills! I'll be the father!" The family was poor and Mary, a sickly child at the time, was to be given away to a rich Doctor and his wife, to be their little girl but right on Dr. George's doorstep, hands on her hips, eyes ablaze, Mary refused to go inside... So, that is what became of the Smith family's life from now on: Little Mary with her long, golden locks, is the daddy!
What becomes of Mary's life is something quite phenomenal... She meets a Papa-like figure in 1909, after years spent working in grimy-rat-infested-vaudeville theatres, earning what she can... This man is named D.W. Griffith and he makes motion pictures! They pay $5 a day to actors and in society, these actors are considered barely a step above prostitutes, but Mary must do whatever it takes to support her family. Griffith sees the intense sparkle in Mary's eyes, the inexorable determination and gives in to their first of many negotiations. Age 15 by now, Mary has learned to not let any man tell her what to do and that she must command her needs. Much to Griffith's dismay, following her threat to not come back, he agrees to $10 a day and to offer work to Mary's siblings. Mary is disgusted at the thought of making these so-called 'flickers,' cheap entertainment for immigrants and the poor. She longs for the sophisticated world of Broadway, but lo and behold, Mary lands herself right at the heart of the Biograph Studios in New York City. She can now be with her family, who are home in Toronto, altogether again... Nothing makes her heart melt more than that... This new job also means she can escape Ma Barrow's Boardinghouse where she has been living with her best friend, fellow actress, Lillian Gish... The house has green slime on the walls... And, she has to clean it!
Biograph is a madhouse, a circus of thespian rowdiness, with improvisation and little script with Griffith at the helm, as the puppeteer... What happens next? Mary Pickford falls in love! She meets her very first lover in the handsome, Irish actor, Owen Moore but even more importantly, Mary falls head over heels madly in love with the art of making motion pictures... Her imagination erupts with characters of every gender, ethnicity, age... She chooses to wear colors that can't even be seen on black and white film. She learns about lights and camera movement and gets Griffith and his camerman Billy Bitzer to do things never done before...
And, with that, the first true movie star is born: Mary Pickford! Actors names do not appear in the credits yet and so the fans must write to the studio to ask in their fanmail "Whose the girl with the curls?" They all clamor to find out who this spirited, teeny-tiny, big hazel-eyed, Biograph girl is.... The rest is history! Our story is one rabbithole after the next, as we unravel the imagination, dreams, and memories of the legend, Mary Pickford...
1919 United Artists Formation Dinner Party Celebration
Balthazar Getty as Alfred Johnson; Scott Haze as Charlie Chaplin; Luke Arnold as Douglas Fairbanks; Sophie Kennedy Clark as Mary Pickford; Cary Elwes as D.W. Griffith; Fran Kranz as Alan Ruppe; Jane Stiles as Lottie Pickford; Allie MacDonald as Lillian Gish; Josephine de La Baume as Frances Marion; Bradley Wayne James as Albert Einstein; Lulu Jovovich as Mrs. Alfred Johnston...
1929, Coquette, Mary's first film with sound. She wins the Oscar in 1930.
Cameron Van Hoy as Coquette director, Sam Taylor...
Sophie Kennedy Clark is a Scottish star. She broke out in the Oscar-Nominated film PHILOMENA playing opposite Judi Dench as the Young Philomena. Sophie was acclaimed, as well, for her role in the Lars Von Trier film NYMPHOMANIAC. She has been the face of BURBERRY.
Underground Hollywood Speakeasy... A dream sequence.
John Vaughn as the Pianist... John was the protege (in real life) of Mary Pickford's third and final husband, Buddy Rogers.
Luke Arnold is an Australian star renowned for his multi-season role as Long John Silver on the show Black Sails. He was also awarded many accolades for his role as Michael Hutcheson from the mega-band INXS.
Douglas Fairbanks flies as Mary and Lillian spectate... In the arms of actor, Luke Arnold, is renowned choreographer and dancer, Kiani. Kiani is a global phenomeon touring with many dance groups, dj's, bands, and with many awards around the world for her work.
Kiani del Valle as Ruth...
Mary Pickford goes up against Adolf Zukor and Samuel Goldwyn.
Jeroen von Koningsbrugge as Adolf Zukor... Jeroen is one of the most popular Dutch actors today for his many series, films, and popular music.
Frances Marion was Mary's best friend but also the first major female screenwriter in Hollywood... Played by Josephine de La Baume, a well-known French actress of today who has catapulted as an international IT girl and fashionista. She has a popular rock band called Sing Tank and has been in countless films from Ron Howard's RUSH to LISTEN UP PHILIP opposite Jason Schwartzman.
Scott Haze as Charlie Chaplin... Scott is consistently one of the industry's ten young actors to watch. He is coming out in a number films, including a Steven Spielberg project. He broke out in James Franco's CHILD OF GOD and is consistently making films with James.
Cary Elwes had a childhood connection to D.W. Griffith and says it is why is in this business. Cary is a phenomenal character actor, most known for PRINCESS BRIDE but his credits are endless.
Other Notable Cast: Summer Phoenix as Vesta Tilley; Heath Freeman as Walter de Frece; Angela McCluskey as Charlotte Pickford; Adam Fergus as Owen Moore, Michael Sirow as Jack Pickford... Summer is the super-edgy, talented indy actress, sister of Joaquin Phoenix... She sings for us in her cameo as Vesta Tilley! Adam has been seen lately on the series SUPERNATURAL and has numerous projects out, including a mini-series airing in Ireland and one shooting in Norway. Angela is Scottish and is super-known as a singer from her days with the band TELEPOP and her current self-titled band, as well... She has songs all over film and TV.
Meet the Crew... Jennifer DeLia - Writer, Director, Producer; Producers - Julie Pacino, Nitsa Benchetrit, Kim Zubick ... Dan Kneece - Cinematographer; Jan Archibald - Hair Designer; Colleen O'Halloran and Michelle Patterson - Production Designers... Dan worked for 25 years with David Lynch and brought in Steven Spielberg's camera operators to shoot this film-- Mitch Dubin and Dan Gold. Jan won the Oscar for LA VIE EN ROSE. Colleen and Michelle designed THE MAD WHALE for James Franco, starring Summer Phoenix. Jennifer has directed numerous project, all produced with Julie. Their arthouse film BILLY BATES premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and had a small release. Their play PHOENIX starring Julia Stiles sold-out. Their music video ANOTHER MURDER IN NEW ORLEANS with Blinddog Smokin' and Dr. John and Bobby Rush was picked by Rolling Stone and MTV and the album was Grammy-nominated. Their music video WILY KATASO by Amadou and Mariam featured Kyp and Tunde from TV ON THE RADIO. Nitsa produced MY OLD LADY starring Kevin Kline, Maggie Smith and Kristen Scott Thomas. Kim produced ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE, starring Jessica Chastain and relseased by Focus Features.
Mary demands credit and more compensation...
In the throes of his affair with Mary, both married to others, Douglas awaits, alongside Mary and Chaplin, the arrival of President Wilson during WWI, as they will be recruited to sell Liberty Bonds in exchange for more fame and a bigger audience.
The party celebrating Mary's name on the first on a movie marquee. Here, she meets Fairbanks, who quite literally sweeps her off her feet.
Going in to talk to Zukor and Goldwyn as the prelude to the start of United Artists.
The 1920's are coming to an end... Mary's mother has just passed... TImes are changing....
Now is the time for this story. The girl loses her curls as she says goodbye to the art-form she knew to be pure... In 2017, there are many correlating themes as we watch TV and the internet take over the world, as femininity aches to seep through the pores of society and Hollywood fights hard to celebrate women. Mary's story could not be more universal as she follows her heart down every rabbit hole that inspires her, fearless. This is a story for young women and girls. Your power comes from within. You may cut your curls, but you never truly have to let them go... Hold onto the imagination, the inner child, the spirt of play... That is what our movie is about!
The Girl with the Curls... A film by Jennifer DeLia... Produced by Julie Pacino, Nitsa Benchetrit, Kim Zubick... firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org... +1.212.920.1450