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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Where A Five-Year-Old Stood Above The Title

Peggy, at Right, Held High at Home

A Baby Peggy Bundle from Undercrank DVD

Baby Peggy was a child star done with starring roles by 1924, none remembered at same level as a Jackie Coogan with The Kid, but Peggy ran him a second in popularity while she worked, a name at age two and peaking at five. Most of her films are gone, ones extant not easy to find, but Ben Model and his Undercrank Productions changes that with DVD release of The Family Secret, part of Peggy parlay with bonus of two short comedies unseen for ages, plus newsreels of her offscreen. 35mm elements were used for all of disc content, and there is crack scoring from outstanding accompanist Model. Big applause to the Library Of Congress and the Museum Of Modern Art for sharing archival treasure that made release possible. All the films are engaging, the dollop an easy single sit (top quality image makes these things really entertaining). The Family Secret is melodrama with requisite happy end of Peggy saving long separated dad from a crook's fate and crusty Grandpa brought round to her elfin charms. It's what 20's folk liked in child-centered narrative and window to at-times weird way of then-lives (were morally outraged parents really so unforgiving back then?). The short comedies came in ahead of Our Gang and likely was template for Roach approach to that series, as here she's a misplaced moppet put to driving trolley (Miles Of Smiles), or kidnapped twin obliged to ride bareback under big tops (Circus Clowns). Happy footnote is Peggy still active, turning ninety-seven on 10/26 (she's seen the DVD and likes it). Greenbriar had "In Association" hand with the project, but Ben Model's was the master mind. His Undercrank label has done much of quality, like with the unbeatable Accidently Preserved series (a new one of those just out). The Family Secret can be had at Amazon.

2 Comments:

Blogger b piper said...

I caught PEG O' THE MOUNTED on TCM not that long ago and can understand her appeal. Very engaging and likable.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Donald Benson said...

Haven't seen her films, but caught her documentary, "The Elephant in the Room."

At one point she remembered watching her small son at play and realizing she resented that he didn't have to work. It says something that she was able to eventually embrace her movie days while keeping a clear eye.

9:28 PM  

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