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Film / The New York Hat

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Yep, it's a Nice Hat

The New York Hat is a 1912 one-reel film boasting a murderer's row of talent: directed by D. W. Griffith, starring Mary Pickford and Lionel Barrymore, with Lillian Gish in a minor role.

A mother named Mary Harding dies, probably because, as she states in a letter, "My husband worked me to death." That letter is sent to the local clergyman (Barrymore). Mrs. Harding states that her skinflint husband will never buy their daughter (Pickford) any decent things, so she leaves the reverend with her little cash nest egg, and asks the minister to buy some luxuries for her daughter. The reverend does so, purchasing a fine hat after he sees Miss Harding admiring it in a department store window. This ill-considered gesture leads to the parishioners gossiping about the nature of the connection between the reverend and pretty young Miss Harding.


The last short film of Mary Pickford's career and the last short film she made with Griffith, who had plucked her from the stage world and made her a movie star. After this Pickford took charge of her own career and became an even bigger star in feature films.


  • Downer Beginning: The film begins with the mother's death.
  • Good Shepherd: The reverend is a gentle sort who is quite willing to use Mrs. Harding's nest egg to buy some finery for her daughter.
  • Gossipy Hens: One of D.W. Griffith's pet peeves. Here "the gossips speculate" after the reverend buys a fancy ladies' hat and said had winds up on Miss Harding's head.
  • Jerkass: Mr. Harding is a prick. Apparently he worked his wife to death, he angrily berates his poor daughter when she asks for a nicer hat, and he reacts with rage when he hears the story of the hat sent by the reverend.
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  • Nameless Narrative: Almost. Some sources give names to the reverend ("Bolton") and the girl ("Mollie"), but in the actual film the only name is that of the late Mrs. Mary Harding, signed to her letter.
  • Nice Hat: The Edwardian Era was a time of absurdly large and ornate women's hats. The hat in this movie is a typical example, an enormous wide-brimmed hat piled high with feathers and flowers and birds.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: The ball gets rolling when Mrs. Harding dies and leaves "an unusual trust" for the reverent.
  • Serious Business: Hats. The townsfolk won't even so much as look at a hatless Miss Harding.


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