The Eternal Grind

A Mary Pickford melodrama. The only copy of this is a nitrate print in the Cinémathèque Française, with French intertitles (a video transfer was made). It's also only the first half of the film (something those familiar with The White Shadow will realize is an all too common part of silent film archives). Some of the shots of New York and in particular, the Lower East Side, are phenomenal—it's like watching The Immigrant as if shot in 1916. The staging is familiar of the tableaux mise-en-scene style; a static camera placement guides the action. Pickford and her sister Loretta Blake are strong; there is one moment where Pickford attempts to clean her dress and her apartment before answering the door that has both comedy and human pathos combined. It's a shame the second half is missing, which gets into interesting material regarding labor relations.