Long-lost silent film starring Mary Pickford unearthed by carpenter
Film was discovered in old New Hampshire barn
The woman most singly responsible for the invention of the movie star, Mary Pickford reigned over the Silent Film Era. A copy of her lost 1911 film, "Their First Misunderstanding" has now been discovered by a carpenter in an old New Hampshire barn.
After breaking from the control of major studios with the formation on UA, Mary Pickford became the most powerful woman who has ever worked in Hollywood.
"Their First Misunderstanding" has historical value, as she was given credit for writing the film in the advertising materials. Previously, movie studios didn't want actors or actresses to become household names because they would demand more money.
Woodworker Peter Massie discovered the film along with six other vintage reels in a barn he was tearing down. The property used to be a boy's summer camp. The movies were probably as a diversion for campers.
Massie donated the films to a Keene State College where it was identified. "This is the coolest thing I've ever found on any job," he said.
The Library of Congress is now funding the project to restore the film, and will be screened next month at Keene State.
"Their First Misunderstanding" is a 10-minute comedy-drama stars Pickford and her first husband, Owen Moore, as newlyweds having their first argument.
Film restorer Larry Benaquist, who led the project discovered that the first minute of the film was destroyed, but the rest was in remarkably good condition.
Until "Their First Misunderstanding" Pickford had been known only as "Little Mary," "The Girl with the Curls" and "The Biograph" girl, after her former studio. This all changed after this film after when demanded to be credited for her work.
Benaquist, film program founder at Keene State College, said "Now she was an actor with clout, and I think she used that to great advantage."
Going between a variety of studios, Pickford joined Douglas Fairbanks, D.W. Griffith and Charlie Chaplin to form United Artists. After breaking from the control of major studios with the formation on UA, Pickford became the most powerful woman who has ever worked in Hollywood.
Retiring from the motion picture business in 1933, shortly after the advent of sound, she went on to receive an honorary Oscar for her contribution to motion pictures in 1976. She died on May 29, 1979, in Santa Monica of complications from a brain hemorrhage, 87 years old.
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