If there is one movie, for me, that you could sum up all the great qualities that Mary Pickford's film legacy represented, it would certainly have to be 1927's "My Best Girl". Mary's last silent film in a starring role shows her as the normal, working class girl eventually winning the love of the attractive, rich boy. This plot was used so many times in silent films you might think it would have been dead and buried by the time this film came to be released, but Mary's charm shines all the way through and it makes me feel like I am watching it for the first time, every time.
The film stars Mary as 5 and 10 floor worker Maggie Johnson who over time falls in love for the new stock boy Joe Merrill (played by Charles "Buddy" Rogers) without knowing that his actual last name is Grant and his father owns the store and he is learning the business from the ground up. Many amusing episodes happen during the film but eventually lead to the happy ending.
This is the film that Mary first met Buddy and following her divorce from Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in 1936, she would go on to marry Rogers the following year, although I believe there was no romance while this film was being made.
This would certainly be one of the final films where Mary could actually get away with playing a much younger girl, but she was already 35 by the time of the films release and Buddy was just 23. Although she tried to pull it off in "Coquette", "Kiki" and "Taming of the Shrew", I don't think it worked.
The film was directed by Sam Taylor with cinematography by Mary's longtime collaborator in that field, Charles Rosher. The film certainly has those great photographic qualities that show up in films of the later 20's and it's unfortunate that with the coming of sound, the individual shots would become static to make up for the stationary microphone, and the visual quality and flow would be lost for a few years just for the novelty.Milestone Film & Video has released and excellent DVD of "My Best Girl" (as well as a number of other Pickford films) and anyone who has never seen a Mary Pickford movie should pick it up anyway they can. It's a great introduction to one of the greatest actresses of all time.