THE SILENT TREATMENT: Tess of the Storm Country

Feat. Live Accompaniment from Cliff Retallick!

The earliest surviving Mary Pickford feature, Tess of the Storm Country (1914) catapulted Pickford from popular performer to motion picture megastar virtually overnight. This was the film that packed theaters to record-breaking highs, inspired exhibitors to crown Pickford “America’s Sweetheart,” and spurred studio head Adolph Zukor to raise her salary, making her the world’s highest paid actress. In the film, Pickford stars as Tessibel Skinner, a poor but feisty squatter on the blustery shores of New York’s Cayuga Lake who rises to heroism when her father (David Hartford) is falsely imprisoned for murder. When Tess agrees to care for the illegitimate baby of a wealthy friend (Olive Golden), she risks losing the love of Frederick (Harold Lockwood) and is condemned by his father, the unforgiving minister Elias Graves (W.R. Walters). Directed by film pioneer Edwin S. Porter and based on a novel by Grace Miller White, Tess of the Storm Country was Mary Pickford’s favorite role. She successfully remade the film in 1922, though the star/producer ultimately preferred the less-polished 1914 version. “The first Tess was more Tess to me than the second,” she once remarked. This groundbreaking melodrama was recently preserved by the Paramount Archives in cooperation with the Mary Pickford Foundation.

Dir. Edwin S. Porter, 1914, HD Digital Presentation, 80 min.

Watch the original trailer!