Tess of the Storm Country (1922)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Mary Pickford had recently put out a couple of mediocre pictures and her latest, Little Lord Fauntleroy, wasn't an immediate hit with her audience (although it would gross over a million dollars -- an enormous sum in those days -- some fans initially voiced disappointment in the film). It was time for Pickford to pull out a sure thing, and a remake of 1914's Tess of the Storm Country made a lot of sense. Tessibel Skinner is the kind of character her audiences loved -- the ragged but spunky young girl who is willing to make a great sacrifice. And Pickford had been very disappointed with Edwin S. Porter's primitive direction in the earlier version. So she bought the rights to the 1909 Grace Miller White novel and went about making it the right way. The result was an enchanting, if overlong, film. Tess is the daughter of a squatter (Forrest Robinson), and the rich man (David Torrence) who owns the land is dying to get rid of them and the other squatter families. Tess is just as determined to make sure they all stay. The man's son, Frederick Graves (all-American leading man Lloyd Hughes), is on her side. When Frederick's sister Teola (Gloria Hope) becomes pregnant out of wedlock, Tess protects her by claiming the child as her own. She is ostracized and the infant is refused baptism, so Tess sneaks into the church and does her own ritual. Eventually the truth comes out, the elder Graves learns some humility, and all ends well. Tess was a big hit and wound up grossing almost as much as Little Lord Fauntleroy. It also changed the life of Lloyd Hughes and Gloria Hope -- they fell in love on the set and later married.

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Keywords

squatter, child, girl, landowner, struggle, baby, baptism, sister, sacrifice, social-outcast