Mary Pickford was in the first flush of her screen superstardom when she appeared in this adaptation of Grace Miller White's novel Tess of the Storm Country. A rambunctious mountain girl, Tess (Pickford) falls in love with a travelling preacher (Harold Lockwood). She swipes a Bible and memorizes it from cover to cover so as to impress the object of her affections. Later, Tess gives shelter to the preacher's pregnant sister then claims ownership of the baby so as to save the sister from disgrace. Unaware of the situation, the sanctimonious preacher refuses to baptize the dying child, whereupon Tess sneaks into the church and performs the rites herself. And as a bonus, she manages to track down the murderers of a gamekeeper. Whatever success Tess of the Storm Country enjoyed was due entirely to Mary Pickford; the direction, by Edwin S. Porter, was appallingly primitive, and the supporting performances not much better. Perhaps sensing this, Pickford chose to remake the property in 1922, this time supervising all aspects of its production -- and the result was an infinitely better film.
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