Monday, February 14, 2011

Mary Pickford in "Coquette"

Mary Pickford won the Oscar for playing Norma Besant in Coquette.

Coquette is so bleeping awful, I'm surprised the TV didn't spit up green soup for making me play it. It's not so much the actors are practically wandering around, waiting for a line reading, it's the fact there even actors at all. If you go into Coquette expecting some miracle, look away, because this is 1929 and talkies are just beginning. Actually, the material originally started on the stage, and it's obvious. Especially one boring sequence where everyone stands around a chair (apparently a sound machine) and has a conversation for 8 minutes. The story follows a Southern flirt who can have any man she wants. Her flirting gets her in a whole mess of trouble!

Noticeably, Mary Pickford was too old to be playing a young Southern belle, but she was so used to playing young in her silent films, she actually doesn't show her age. What she does show is her silent roots, which are ridiculously bad. Pickford tries to stretch out her face with alot of strength like she's just in a silent film, but this is a talky, and she makes look Norma look strange, with her wide eyed looks in the camera and her loud mannerisms. There's also her fake sounding voice when she is flirting.

The courtroom scenes, as ridiculous as they may be, are her best moments. She finally lets her guard down, and delivers a natural sounding, mannerisms-free performance that reminded (at least me) of what could have came of Mary Pickford had she been a better talky actress. And she tries her best to invest some life into the character of Norma, but again, it's hardly much.

To put it quite perfectly, I appreciate the fact Mary Pickford took a risk and tried the talkies which I'm sure were risky for someone who had an entire silent film reputation. I don't hate her performance as much as others do, but then again I was not impressed with it, at all.

No comments: