Mary Pickford in Kiki (March 14, 1931)
Released on March 14, 1931: Mary Pickford's famous dance is the best part of this early 'talkie' movie featuring several future stars.
Directed by Sam Taylor
Written by David Belasco and Sam Taylor.
The Actors: Mary Pickford (Kiki), Reginald Denny (Victor Randall), Joseph Cawthorn (Alfred Rapp), Margaret Livingston (Paulette Vaile), Phil Tead (Eddie), Fred Walton (Bunson), Edwin Maxwell (Dr. Smiley), George Davis, Betty Grable (Goldwyn Girl), Dorothy White (Goldwyn Girl), Edmund Mortimer, Fred Warren, Blue Washington.
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This movie is one of the first films with sound, and it wasn't great when the film was brand new, but on this well-worn copy the sound is sometimes a struggle to endure. But your patience with the sound quality will be well rewarded by the amazing performance by Mary Pickford in this wonderful pre-code comedy. If you thought that Lucille Ball was the first great female slap-stick comedienne, watch this film and you will think that this may have been Miss Ball's tutor. Mary Pickford is young, beautiful and totally out-of-control Kiki, and she cannot keep a job or find a man, until she sinks her hooks into Victor (Reginald Denny), a wealthy Broadway producer. Victor is despondent because his wife has divorced him and gone off with another man, and feels suicidal.
Enter Kiki, who has been fired from his production because she cannot keep up with the rest of the chorus girls. She manages to get her job back by harassing Victor until he promises to put her back in the chorus if she will promise to leave him alone and never see him again. Fat chance of that! What follows is the premier of the show and Kiki manages to keep the entire audience in stitches as she stumbles through the dance number, doing everything wrong, and winding up in the orchestra pit inside the big kettle drum. If you know anything about physical comedy, you will see what perfect timing and athletics Mary Pickford displays in this dance routine. After the performance she is once again fired, but she winds up going home wiht Victor to be his 'girlfriend.' Later at home, her zany personality causes Victor to want nothing more than for her to leave, but Kiki is determined to hold on to this fellow, at any cost. But Victor's ex-wife also wants him back, and that introduces Kiki's competition to the mix, and adds the opportunity for even more dramatic comedy from this early master of the big screen.
Make some popcorn, grab a soda, and enjoy a wonderfully written pre-code romantic comedy from the early days of sound films. You will see not only the pretty body of Mary Pickford, but also her amazing talent for physical comedy that is as good or better than any actor of the day, and the equal of comedians even today. Get ready to laugh your way through the antics of Kiki. See if you can spot an early film appearance by WWII pin-up model Betty Grable, as one of the girls in the chorus line!