Freckles (1917)

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The bucolic Gene Stratton-Porter novel Freckles was first brought to the screen in 1917. This version stars Jack Pickford, brother of film legend Mary Pickford and was made by Mary's director at the time, Marshall Neilan. Jack's character, a one-armed orphaned waif, appears to be a male version of Mary's character. The orphan, Freckles, runs away and is taken in by lumber baron John McLean (Herbert Bosworth). He becomes a forest guard and meets a girl, Angel (Louise Huff), whom he worships from afar. When he tries to stop some lumber thieves, he is horribly injured and taken to a hospital, where he is nursed back to health by Angel. Meanwhile, his real father, who happens to be an English nobleman, dies, and his uncle sets out in search of the boy. He finally locates him, and now that Freckles knows he's of noble birth, he feels good enough to make his feelings for Angel known. This story (which sounds like it was written by one of Mary Pickford's scenarists on a bad day) was adapted from a novel by Gene Stratton Porter.