Their First Misunderstanding (1911)-Recent Mary Pickford film find!

In 2006, a cache of film was discovered in a barn and donated to the Keene State College Film Society, headed by KSC professor Larry Benaquist….The… film reels [have] produced yet another lost cinematic gem—Their First Misunderstanding (1911), Mary Pickford’s film debut for Independent Moving Picture Company (IMP)…The Library of Congress has been working with Colorlab in Rockville, Maryland to preserve and restore the short for an October 11 [2013] premiere. Their First Misunderstanding was screened with two other Pickford films, Sparrows (1926) and The Dream (1911) at Alumni Recital Hall, in Keene State College’s Redfern Arts Center, and Christel Schmidt hosted the screening.

…Their First Misunderstanding, Pickford’s debut film for IMP, was released on January 9, 1911. It is notable not only as her premiere picture for her new studio, but also as the first movie in which she was credited and promoted by name. We cannot know if Pickford received an onscreen credit since the only surviving copy of this film is missing the opening title cards, but her image, name, and even her nickname “Little Mary,” were used to promote the one-reel picture in publicity materials, including advertisements and posters, and that this had never happened during her initial run at Biograph.

Pickford’s first for IMP is also noteworthy because she wrote the scenario. It is one of two stories she authored for the company. Their First Misunderstanding, a tale of a newly married couple’s first fight, may reflect something of Pickford’s personal life. She had just wed actor Owen Moore, who also plays her husband in the film. The couple were frequent co-stars at Biograph, where they met, and became a popular onscreen pairing for IMP. Also appearing on screen is acclaimed producer/director Thomas Ince, who is believed to have directed the picture. “This appears to be the first film in which Pickford and Ince are both on screen in a film which he also co-directed,” says Brian Taves, author of Thomas Ince: Hollywood’s Independent Pioneer. “They were beginning a close collaboration, Ince directing the entire Pickford family in several dozen films shot in Cuba in 1911.”

Pickford appeared in an estimated thirty-five one-reel IMP shorts and authored two scenarios during the nine months she worked for company. Only thirteen of thirty-five titles are known to survive. Nine complete films, including Their First Misunderstanding and The Dream, and fragments of two others are held by the Library of Congress.

From University Press of Kentucky blog.