Canada’s Sweetheart


The spot where Mary Pickford was born. Now a maternity hospital, so in this, as so much else, Mary was a trendsetter. These days, it seems like everybody’s being born.

Photo by Miloš Tomin, who served as guide and conversationalist. He takes a good picture too, though I regret that while Mary’s bust says “America’s/Canada’s Sweetheart” loud and clear in green-tinged metal, my portrait has more a vibe of “keeps abductee in basement.”

One degree of separation from Mary P. is Cecil Blount DeMille, the subject of this month’s Primal Screen, the silent movie column in Sight & Sound. And zero degrees of separation from the column is me, since this month I wrote it. Evidence. By looking at one DeMille from 1914 (centenary!) and one from 1915, I aim to give a lightning sketch of race in American movies and CBD’s rapid development from stodgy beginner to one of the most sophisticated visual storytellers in cinema of the day, all accomplished in a single year. His journey back to stodge would take decades.


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