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Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2017 by Carl Bennett
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Little
Annie Rooney

(1925)

 

Little Annie Rooney (1925) is a favorite among Mary Pickford’s films. In one of the last of her little girl films, Pickford turns in a great performance in this urban comedy-drama.

Young Annie Rooney (Pickford) is a neighborhood scrapper by day, domestic caretaker of her beat-policeman father (Walter James) and older brother Tim (a grown-up Gordon Griffith) by night. Tim is falling under the influence of a neighborhood gang, headed by an already one-time loser (Hugh Fay) who hates Policeman Rooney and, by association, his son. Also walking down the wrong road is Joe (William Haines), who becomes the infatuation of Annie, who is just becoming aware of adult feelings for him.

Making financial reparations for fight damages, the Rooney neighborhood kids raise money by putting on a big variety show — with a genuwine horse — which gets busted up by neighborhood rival kids. Annie, on the runaway horse, is rescued by Joe.

The comic tone takes a serious turn. On the night of the big local dance at the Pansy Social Club, Joe manages to irk both loser thug Spider and gang member Tony, who tries shooting Joe and ends up killing Officer Rooney by accident. Meanwhile, Annie is preparing a surprise birthday party for her father, and is visited by another policeman (with the bad news) instead.

Convinced by Spider and Tony that he shot his father, Tim is out to get Joe in vengeance. The neighborhood kids band together with Annie to avert disaster.

Pickford is always the star and commands attention when she is onscreen, but she is also ably supported by the actors portraying the neighborhood kids, and by the likeable and ever-charming William Haines. — Carl Bennett

Terra Entertainment
2003 DVD edition

Little Annie Rooney (1925), black & white, 95 minutes, not rated.

Terra Entertainment, TE-2096, UPC 6-84457-20962-1.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 1 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in windowboxed 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, 5.5 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 20 chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $14.95.
Release date: 28 January 2003.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 6 / audio: 5 / additional content: 0 / overall: 6.

This midprice edition has been mastered from a very-good 35mm print. The windowboxed transfer, which appears to have been copied from the 1990 Image Entertainment laserdisc, will keep some of the tightly-cropped intertitles in the source print from being cut off on all televisions. The print is a little constrasty in places and dark in others, with a little speckling, more dust, and other transient print damage.

The film is accompanied by a music score performed by a small orchestra that is lifted from the mono optical track of another film print, which is all too apparent when unexplained snoring is heard during a scene in the Rooney apartment. It all gets ridiculous when Tim chases Joe with a gun and the soundtrack plays “Jingle Bells.”

We had some trouble playing the DVD during the fight at the dance in a couple of our review players, and suspect that other purchasers may have similar problems. We suggest waiting for the inevitable release of an edition from Milestone Film & Video that is part of their other Pickford releases on DVD in cooperation with The Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
St. Clair Vision
2008 DVD edition

Mary Pickford Collection (1917-1925), black & white, ? minutes total, not rated,
including Little Annie Rooney (1925), black & white, 95 minutes, not rated.

St. Clair Vision, COLVD81709, UPC 7-77966-81709-5.
One single-sided, dual-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, 3 Mbps average video bit rate, 448 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 8 chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, unknown suggested retail price.
Release date: 15 April 2008.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 5 / audio: 5 / additional content: 5 / overall: 5.

This low-budget release of four Pickford films contains an edition of Little Annie Rooney, mastered from an older slightly faster than natural-speed video transfer (which may have originated for VHS and laserdisc) that appears to have utlized a very-good 35mm reduction print, with a broad range of greytones, but the net result (after DVD compression and encoding) is a picture that is soft on image detail.

The film is presented with a custom music score performed with synthesized sounds of a circus calliope. Annoying, and hardly appropriate to the film’s content.

No edition of Little Annie Rooney on DVD home video is of acceptable quality, but this may be a passable value (given the other Pickford titles in the collection) until a high-quality home video edition is released.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
American Pop Classics
2012 DVD edition

Little Annie Rooney (1925), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

American Pop Classics, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, unknown suggested retail price.
Release date: 24 January 2012.
Country of origin: USA
This edition may have been mastered from a 16mm reduction print.

The film is likely accompanied by a soundtrack compiled from preexisting recordings.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Other silent era MARY PICKFORD films available on home video.

Other silent era WILLIAM HAINES films available on home video.

Mary Pickford filmography in The Progressive Silent Film List
 
 
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