The Tiniest of Stars
An air of authenticity infuses this family drama of a brother and sister who take to the variety stage. The popular stage was a source of everyday entertainment for most Americans of the time, and had been Edwin Thanhouser's career before 1910. Audiences were beginning to recognize and demand more of the little actresses Marie Eline (who plays the little boy) and Helen Badgley, which led to the studio promoting them, and demand for their movies helped create the star system which survives today stronger than ever. A deft mixture of comedy and sentimentality. This film features actors performing in blackface. Fandor does not condone racist stereotyping, but blackface is nonetheless a significant aspect of American history in general and film history specifically. Early cinema was deeply rooted in vaudeville, where blackface was a popular staple. As film critic Ty Burr wrote in a recent assessment of Al Jolson’s THE JAZZ SINGER, "Minstrelsy was the then-accepted cultural mechanism by which the governing white culture could appropriate and tame various representations of black people." The history of blackface is complex (even African American performers donned burnt cork to appear onstage in the early 1900s), and its legacy is far from being resolved. While blackface iconography appears offensive today, it remains deeply telling of the culture from which it emerged.