When one carpenter was working in a New Hampshire barn, he came across a discovery that would have film historians interested. He found seven nitrate reels of a movie titled “Their First Misunderstanding.”
The ten-minute film starred silent film star Mary Pickford. Pickford, who was formerly known as Gladys Louise Smith was a Canadian-American film actress, writer, director and producer.
Born in 1982, Pickford launched her career in early 1920s, taking on a major role in 1929 at the age of thirty-seven. She went on to be one of the original 36 founds of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
She was also the first starlet who was known as “America’s Sweetheart,” or “The Girl With the Curls.” The star, who was one of the first Canadian actresses to play a big role in the development of film acting, was in her prime in the 1910s and 20s and even gained the nickname “Queen of the Movies.”
She co-starred with Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks. She contributed to the development and creation of more than two hundred movies and became one of the most well-known Hollywood stars of all time.
The discovery of the silent film was rather shocking, considering it was previously thought of as having been lost and forgotten. It was later donated to Keene State College, where it was restored and added to the film archives. The movie, which was considered to be a comedy, was mode over a century ago and was said to be missing.
One well-known film historian, named Leonard Maltin claims that he has a list of all of Pickford’s films and this particular one, “Their First Misunderstanding,” had been missing. “Finding this film is like finding an unpublished short story by Mark Twain,” said Maltin of the discovery.
Media Arts Center instructor at Keene State College admits that the discovery is a gem. After some research, he discovered that there had been a boys’ camp close to where the barn was located, and every summer they would set up a 35 millimeter projector and show ancient films. Apparently, this is one of the films that they viewed and allegedly left behind.
Pickford, who had just been 18 when she made, “Their First Misunderstanding,” starred in the silent film as a wife who was having a huge squabble with her husband. Maltin also went on to discover that this short film was the first time she received screen billing as Mary Pickford, which later became famous.
In her career, she’s taken home two Oscars, the second ever Academy Award for Best Actress for her first sound film role in the 1929 film Coquette. In addition, she received an honorary Academy Award in 1976. Pickford was ranked as number 24 in the American Film Institute’s 1999 list f greatest female stars of Classic Hollywood Cinema.