The Foundling (1916)

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This silent melodrama was typical Mary Pickford fare, if perhaps not one of her best. She had made a version of the film in early 1915, directed by Allan Dwan, but the negative was lost in a fire. The less talented John O'Brien directed the remake, but he was uninspired and the film proved merely adequate. Pickford played Molly O., whose mother dies in childbirth and whose father, David King (Edward Martindale), rejects her. King goes off to Italy to paint his departed wife as the Madonna, while Molly languishes in a cruel orphanage. Beloved by the other pupils, Molly is despised by the matron's jealous niece, Jenny (Mildred Morris), and is quickly shipped off to live with a boardinghouse proprietress (Maggie Weston). Treated more like a slave than an adopted daughter, Molly takes to the road. King, meanwhile, has returned from Italy wealthy, successful, and longing for his lost daughter. At the orphanage, Jenny is pawned off as the missing Molly and leaves to live with her "father." One day, King rescues a young girl from an encounter with a nasty dogcatcher. She so endears herself to him that he hires her as his maid. She is, of course, the real Molly O., and her re-emergence proves fatal for the impostor. The Foundling was filmed on location at the Los Angeles Orphan Asylum, an institution that would benefit from Miss Pickford's sponsorship for decades. The actress also filmed Stella Maris and Daddy-Long-Legs at the orphanage. Perhaps the completely wrong choice to helm a Pickford drama, John O'Brien later directed Universal "Mustang" 2-reelers starring action heroine Josie Sedgwick.