In Person: Christel Schmidt, Editor of the new book
“Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies”
Live Organ Accompaniment by Ben Model
on the Cinema’s Miditzer Theater Organ
A century ago, in the early days of cinema, when actors were unbilled and unmentioned in credits, audiences immediately noticed Mary Pickford. Dubbed “America’s Sweetheart,” Pickford charmed moviegoers during the first three decades of the 20th century with magnetic talent, as she rose to become cinema’s first great star.
In the 1920s, Pickford began to experiment with her onscreen image. With this in mind, she decided to make Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall, a grand historical drama set in 16th century England. Dorothy, the rebellious daughter of nobility, refuses to abide by a prearranged marriage after falling in love with the son of a family enemy. Before she knows it, she has offended both Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth! Allan Forest, Pickford’s brother-in-law, plays the romantic lead, while his wife Lottie Pickford Forrest stars as Dorothy’s devoted maid. (USA, 1924, 35mm, 1924, 120 mins, Director: Marshall Neilan, Preserved by the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, print courtesy of the Library of Congress)
Christel Schmidt is a film historian, writer and editor. She was awarded two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities for her work on Mary Pickford and is co-editor of “Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture.”
Published by the Library of Congress in association with the University of Kentucky Press, “Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies,” edited by Christel Schmidt, sheds new light on this icon’s life and legacy. Through essays by Schmidt and other eminent film historians, Pickford emerges from the pages in vivid detail. She is revealed as a gifted actress, a philanthropist and a savvy industry leader who fought for creative control of her films and ultimately became her own producer. Her success paved the way for women in film and ushered in Hollywood’s golden age.
This beautifully designed volume features more than 200 color and black-and-white illustrations, including photographs and posters from the Library’s collections and those of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Together with the text, they paint a fascinating portrait of a key figure in American cinematic history.
Ben Model is one of the USA’s leading silent film accompanists, and has been playing piano and organ for silents at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for the past 27 years. Ben co-curated MoMA’s “Cruel and Unusual Comedy” series and Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle retrospective, and also curated Shout!Factory’s new “Ernie Kovacs Collection” DVD box set. A five-time recipient of the Meet The Composer grant, Ben is a regular accompanist at classic film festivals around the U.S.A. and in Norway, and performs at universities, museums, and historic theaters. Ben is the producer and co-founder of The Silent Clowns Film Series, now in its 14th season in NYC. Ben’s recorded scores can be heard on numerous DVD releases from Kino Video and others. Ben’s composed ensemble scores for films by Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd are performed around the U.S. every year by orchestras and by concert bands.