T. it.: Papà Gambalunga. Sc.: Agnes C. Johnston, Mary Pickford, dal romanzo e dalla pièce omonima di Jean Webster. M.: Edward McDermott. F.: Charles Rosher, Henry Cronjager. Ass.R.: Al Green. Cast: Mary Pickford («Judy» Abbott), Milla Davenport (Mrs. Lippert), Percy Haswell (Miss Pritchard), Fay Lemport (Angelina Wyckoff), Mahlon Hamilton (Jarvis Pendleton), Lillian Langdon (Mrs. Pendleton), Betty Bouton (Julia Pendleton), Audrey Chapman (Sally McBride), Marshall A. Neilan (Jimmy McBride), Carrie Clarke Warde (Mrs. Semple), Wesley Barry (orfano), Frankie Lee. Prod.: Mary Pickford; 35mm. D.: 85’ a 21 f/s.
Daddy Long Legs, The Hoodlum, The Hearth o’the Hills: each of these movies successfully employs what was by now Pickford’s established pattern of young girl/grown woman performance. Daddy Long Legs begins with her in an orphanage, a child-mother to the other poor kids. After she’s been taken under the wing of a mysterious guardian who doesn’t reveal his name (her «daddy long legs»), she grows up to be the beautiful young woman he decides to marry. Daddy Long Legs was so successful that it was used in promoting her next film, The Hoodlum.
Jeanine Basinger, Silent Stars, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1999
Marshall «Mickey» Neilan, who directed Stella Maris, is one of the forgotten pioneers of the American cinema. In addition to his 1917 films with Pickford, he also worked with her in Amarilly of Clothesline Alley (1918), M’liss (1918), Daddy Long Legs (1919), and Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall (1924); they acted together in Rags (1915), A Girl of Yesterday (1915), Madame Butterfly (1915), and Daddy Long Legs. Neilan was a talented, innovative director with a special ability to create and sustain mood, but he was also a playboy, with a fondness for alcohol, and he never seriously applied himself to his work. He could have become one of the great director’s; instead, he developed a reputation for unreliability. By the end of the silent era, he was already a has-been. The last two films he directed, Sing While You’re Able (1937) and Swing It, Professor (1937), were «D»- grade musicals for Ambassador Pictures. Years later, Elia Kazan cast him in a character role as a senator in A Face in the Crowd (1957). He died a year later in a charity ward.