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Film / The New York Hat

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Yep, it's a nice hat
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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, Reverend Bolton (Barrymore). Mrs. Harding states that her skinflint husband will never buy their daughter Mollie (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 Mollie 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 Mollie.

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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.


Tropes:

  • Company Cameo: The "AB" logo of production company American Biograph can be seen on the wall of the living room where Miss Harding sometimes meets the friendly reverend, and where she tries on her fancy hat. This was actually an anti-piracy device practiced by Biograph, because in the early silent era film piracy was rampant.
  • Dies Wide Open: The mother, in the opening scene; the doctor closes her eyes.
  • Downer Beginning: The film begins with the mother's death.
  • Good Shepherd: Reverend Bolton is a gentle sort who is quite willing to use Mrs. Harding's nest egg to buy some finery for her daughter.
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  • Gossipy Hens: One of D.W. Griffith's pet peeves. Here "the gossips speculate" after the reverend buys a fancy ladies' hat and said hat winds up on Mollie'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.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Mr. Harding does this when flipping out near the end, as he confronts his daughter about the hat.
  • 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.
  • 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 Mollie Harding.

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