Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917)

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm…………………………………………………………………………..

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm Movie Review

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is a 1917 silent family film directed by Marshall Neilan and starring Mary Pickford. It is such a charming, really good flick.

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I ain’t dead yet. Don’t mess up the bed with yer flowers!

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Rebecca is taken into the home of her strict aunt where she experiences growing up and different experiences until going to a boarding school. The main problem here is its episodic nature. The film is obviously based on a book and it can be seen from the first moment. Yes, all moments and scenes here are good, but that doesn’t still change the fact that they aren’t well connected and the film feels like a TV show which was troublesome.

But the plot is still pretty good and even though The Poor Little Rich Girl’ I also really liked, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is the better crafted and much less uneven movie. The whole ending is so sweet and rewarding and the beginning is great. Some of the middle parts weren’t as great, but I just loved the subplot with The Simpsons where she helped the family. That was so sweet, but admittedly led to an episodic feel to the film.

Of all the characters, Adam is solid, but not as well realized. And of course aunt Hannah is great and the two had some fantastic moments together. But Rebecca is the highlight and I really liked her characterization. She is evidently a child, but also sometimes a teenager and in the end grows into a beautiful, admirable young woman. That is why this is such a good coming-of-age story.

Mary Pickford is naturally the standout actress here and she steals the whole movie and this is basically her show. Again, we have her playing a child in her twenties, but once again that is never a problem as she just knew how to do it and she superbly mastered this craft. She is the heart and soul of the movie, she has a lot of charisma and it was just wonderful watching her grace the screen with her beauty and charisma.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is episodic, but mostly well adapted from its source material. Some of the dialogue bothered me with its simplicity, but most of it was fine. The film is well directed, well shot and finely edited. Its running time is short and the film doesn’t feel rushed ever.

The tone is interesting. It is above all a family film, but it is also a mix of both drama and comedy and it mostly succeeds in those areas, albeit I wished for more humor to be honest. The film is grounded in reality and it also works as a great historical document as it transports you to the 1910s period remarkably well. Overall, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is far from a great movie, but it is just charming enough and endearing enough to recommend, most especially to children as it is a wonderful, childlike entertainment.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is way too episodic in nature and some of its subplots aren’t as well incorporated, but it mostly works as an adaptation as it is well directed, well acted and well shot and it works as a great time capsule. The ending is so sweet and rewarding, the film is so charming and endearing and it benefits from Mary Pickford’s marvelous performance as she steals the show here with her obvious charm and plenty of charisma.

My Rating – 4

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Posted in Comedy, Drama, Family, FILM DECADES, MOVIE REVIEWS, Silent and tagged , , , , , .

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