Sunday, September 22, 2013

Silent Sundays: My Best Girl (1927)

“Maggie, you’re my best girl.”

            My Best Girl tells the dream of every girl in the world. What girl does not long to meet a nice handsome young man who is the sweetest kindest thing ever? Well, I am one of those girls. Despite my ice cold heart I do have a sentimental side that no matter how hard I try to force down I sometimes dream about meeting the right guy who is handsome and kind… and particularly one who has a lot of money! My Best Girl is that dream and it is so sweet it makes you blush.
            Maggie Johnson (Mary Pickford) is a stock girl at a 5 and 10 Cent story. She takes over a counter for one of the salesgirls while they go on a quick break. Maggie meets a guy named Joe (Charles “Buddy” Roger). She thought Joe was a customer but it turns out he is a new stock clerk like her. In reality Joe is actually the son of the store owner Mr. Merrill. He uses the last name Grant so no one will do him any favors and he can progress through the store by himself. He is currently engaged to a woman named Millicent and his mother will not announce their engagement until Joe has progressed through the store.
            All the girls at the store like Joe which makes Maggie a little jealous. Maggie gets home from hopping on the back of the truck. She makes Joe chase after her by dropping things off the truck. Eventually Joe just jumps on the truck with her. They have a fun time riding to her house. They joke around by pretending Maggie is a queen on her throne. Millicent happened to be driving by the truck and she sees Joe with Maggie. When they get to Maggie’s house she invites him to stay for dinner. Maggie lives at home with her parents and sister Liz. Her parents and Liz are in the middle of an argument. They do not want Liz to be seen with a man. Maggie does not let Joe come in the house she does not want him to see how dysfunctional they are. She tells him Liz is part of a dramatic club and she is rehearsing some of her lines. When the fighting does not end after a while, Maggie tells Joe to come over for dinner another night.
            Joe has been promoted to boss. Even with this new promotion he still has lunch with Maggie in the stock room. For his birthday Maggie gives him a watch. He gets his jacket sleeve caught on a nail in the box they are sitting in. When he gets his arm lose it hits Maggie making it seem like he is putting his arm around her. She does not protest and he does not move it. He pulls her in closer and they kiss. That night Joe’s mother holds a party for him at a club where she now plans to announce his engagement. Joe never shows up. After work he gets some ice cream with Maggie. Joe has a note from his mother reminding him about dinner that night. He mentions the store’s slogan about being a big family to Maggie and says they should take Merrill up on that and go to dinner at his house. Maggie is reluctant to go she does not want to go uninvited to the boss’s house. When they get there Joe motions to the butler to make like he does not know him. As they are sitting down to dinner his parents come home along with Millicent. Embarrassed and upset Maggie runs out of the house.
            Maggie runs all the way back to the store in town. She looks longingly at the shop’s window depicting the perfect family home. She wants that home and she is upset that it will not be with Joe. When she goes to turn away she sees her parents pull up in a cab. They tell her Liz has gotten herself in trouble and is in jail they have to get to the courthouse. Joe goes to the shop window looking for Maggie. A homeless man sitting by the window who saw Joe and Maggie together earlier tells Joe that Maggie went to the courthouse. He races there to tell Maggie that he loves her and wants to marry her. Liz’s boyfriend tells her father that a millionaire’s son in love with a shop girl is not right there is something more going on with his intentions. Joe gets furious and attacks the guy and gets himself arrested.
            News of the millionaire’s son’s arrest is all over the papers the following day. Mr. Merrill comes to see Maggie at her house. He tells her his wife is not happy about their son being in love with a shop girl she feels it will ruins his career. Mrs. Merrill wants to send Joe to Hawaii until the scandal blows over. Joe though wants Mary to come along, he has books a room under Mr. and Mrs. Merrill. He hands Maggie a check for ten thousand dollars to make her not want to go. Joe comes by the house. Maggie does everything to make Joe not love her anymore. She tells him she knew all along who he was and played him so she could get his money. Neither one of them is convinced they love each other too much. Mr. Merrill sees what Maggie did for his son that she loves him so much she was willing to let him go and lie about who she really is. He takes back his check and rips it up.
            Both Maggie and Joe leave by ship for Hawaii together.
            Mary Pickford and Charles Rogers were perfect both as actors and as a couple. For much of her career Pickford played either little girls or very young women. I think here she finally played someone older and more sophisticated and emotionally mature. I adored every one of her scenes she was so great. Pickford was very convincing with how much Maggie loved Joe at the end. Charles Rogers I had never seen in a film before. I liked him a lot he did not over act at all which even guys back in Classic Hollywood did sometimes. Rogers, or should I say Joe, is definitely the kind of guy I mentioned above that I would like to meet he was sweet and good and so adorable. His chemistry with Pickford was very real, they married each other ten years later. Pickford and Rogers seemed a little odd together you can tell there is an age difference between them but somehow they worked wonderfully together.

            My Best Girl is a very good silent film it is one of my favorites. It was so cute it made me so happy as I watched it. I like a good screw-with-your-mind film, I like dramas, and I like comedies, but every once in a while I like a film with a cute story. Mary Pickford’s films are definitely cute which is why I enjoy watching them. I think this is my favorite of her films I have seen so far. My Best Girl is hard to find unless you want to spend a fortune on the DVD. If you ever happen to come across the film somewhere I highly recommend watching it.