In March 1916, Pathé released a short feature entitled Little Mary Sunshine, starring a four-year-old Marie Osborne. This was one of the first features ever directed by King and it was so successful that Pathé asked the original production company, Balboa, for five more features with the same child wonder. All were produced during the second half of 1916, and only three of them survive today – one being Twin Kiddies, which shows the amazing progress King had made since the first film in the series. Of course, the story is thin, the ending quite abrupt, and the opening sequences rather long. Yet, the direction is much more subtle, alternating between shots of different size, suggesting that King was mastering the art of composition. Even at the beginning of the film there is a scene (when Fay, played by Osborne, runs towards the camera) which that is filmed in deep focus. Later, a beautiful view of a peaceful valley predicts King’s classic silent Tol’able David (1921) while throughout the film, like muchas in many of King’s later works – both silent and sound – the camera returns to lush views of outdoor spaces and landscapes. One other sign of King’s rapid improvement is the editing, which interlaces parallel actions, without an excess of transitions, as it was the case in the first feature. Furthermore, the acting is natural, something which that can’t be seen in many films of 1916. Marie remains at the centre of the film, with a climax in whichusing double exposure is used. However, Marie Osborne’s stardom was short-lived and virtually ended in 1919. Years later, King gave her a small role in Carolina (1934), and then Osborne, now a young woman, became the stand-in for Ginger Rogers and Betty Hutton. Later, she worked in the costume department of films such as Cleopatra (1963) and The Godfather: Part II (1974). When she died in 2010, she was 99.
Cast and Credits
Scen.: Calder Johnstone. F.: William Beckway. Int.: Marie Osborne (Bessie Hunt/Fay Van Loan), Henry King (Jasper Hunt), Ruth Lackaye (Mrs. Flannigan), Daniel Gilfether (William Van Loan), R. Henry Grey (Baxter Van Loan), Loretta Beecker (Beatrice Van Loan), Edward Jobson (Spencer), Mignon Le Brun (la governante). Prod.: Balboa Amusement Company. 35mm. D.: 54’. Col. (Desmet).
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