Though rarely screened, Through the Back Door provides the incandescent Mary Pickford with one of her finest roles. Young Jeanne’s (Pickford) life changes dramatically when her widowed mother marries wealthy New Yorker Elton Reeves. Disdainful of children and jealous of the attention paid to his stepdaughter, Reeves convinces his bride to leave Jeanne in the care of Marie, the Belgian nurse who has helped raise her. Years later the guilt-ridden mother returns for her child. But the elderly nurse, desperate to keep her beloved Jeanne, lies and says that the girl has died in a drowning accident.
When World War I breaks out and Belgium comes under attack by the Germans, Marie must send Jeanne to America for the girl’s safety. When she arrives at the Reeve’s huge estate, the poorly dressed Jeanne fears to approach her mother with the truth and instead ends up taking a job as her maid. But when a team of husband-and-wife con artists (Adolphe Menjou in one of his earliest roles) threaten her mother’s marriage, Jeanne must find the courage to reveal everything and come to her aid.
Intimately filmed, handsomely directed, and with a Chaplinesque approach to the subject matter, Through the Back Door includes one of Pickford’s finest moments. Mary invents a new and hilarious method for cleaning a muddy room — she straps scrub brushes to her feet and skates her way across the soapy floor.
DVD features an original orchestral score by Robert Israel and the complete 1914 feature Cinderella, one of Mary Pickford’s most charming films with music composed by Donald Sosin.
Also available in 35mm prints for theatrical and nontheatrical screenings. Contact Milestone for price and availability!
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