Amarilly Of Clothes-Line Alley

Amarilly Of Clothes-Line Alley (1918) Starring Mary Pickford

vintage-cadbury-roses-chocolatesAmarilly Of Clothes-Line Alley (1918)

Directed by Marshall Neilan. Writers: Belle K. Maniates (novel, read online here), Frances Marion (film). A comedy-romance  running  67 minutes, Black and White, Silent. Made in USA by Mary Pickford Company.

Cast: Mary Pickford as Amarilly Jenkins, William Scott as Terry McGowen, Kate Price as Mrs. Americus Jenkins, Ida Waterman as Mrs. David Phillips, Norman Kerry as Gordon Phillips, Fred Goodwins as Johnny Walker, Margaret Landis as Colette King, Tom Wilson as 'Snitch' McCarthy.

The screen flickers into a dismal view of clothes line alley, aptly named as you sink into the atmosphere of laundry mamas and cleaning girls. We are informed that Amarilly Jenkins is a debutante of Clothes-Line Alley, with a respectable gentleman friend, Terry, who has employment at the bar of Cyclone Cafe. Mother has a sign upon the splintered door advertising honest washin' done cheap. Amarilly's six brothers lark about; two of them are newsboys (not all are shown in the film version).

Sunday is "soothing syrup" to Clothes-Line Alley. Terry and his best girl are dressed up... Amarilly in high-stepping boots, and are sitting demurely in morning church services. The afternoon finds them whizzing off on Terry's motor-bike. No wonder Amarilly loves lives in the Alley. It's a hoot!

Mrs. David Phillips, an icy socialite dame, calls the athletic club to speak with her nephew Gordon who is drinking gaily at the bar, and enquires as to why he has not visitied her. He plops the phone down and dances cheekily in a sauna-towel with his like-wise clad friends who are the lay-about sons of wealthy families.

Meanwhile Amarilly and Terry stroll around the streets. A flower stall has violets for .15 cents a bunch, but Terry is not extravagant. Pouting Amarilly must do without. However, she finds her joy at the evening dance, held at the Cyclone Cafe, where we also find Gordon and his friends oiled up for frivolity. 

As the night ends, Terry and Amarilly linger on the rickety staircase that takes them to her home.. a made-do flat where Ma and the boys are sleeping contentedly. The love-birds have been dating for three years and still no kiss for Terry. He reminds her. Shyly she resolves to give in a tells him to "shoot" a kiss. After a few tricks, Terry is still without her offering.

We breeze into another day in the Alley. Amarilly works as a mop girl in an old theatre, which is about to be destroyed in a blaze. The manager blames Amarilly, as she alerted everyone to the flames... and furiously tosses her out the back door. Little Amarilly stands sadly in a back street... her wages lost. Still, there's always happiness at home.

Never mind though because Terry can get her a job at the Cyclone Cafe selling cigarettes. As she begins her new job we notice Gordon again who is struck on the new sweet girl. Snitch McCarthy, the local stirrer, is itching to strke up trouble for Gordon's elite circle. After some poking a brawl bursts across the Cafe. Amarilly helps a beaten Gordon back to her home where Ma attends to his bruises.

Later on Gordon offers Amarilly a position as cleaner of his studio where he pretends to be a sculptor of creative art. She is amazed that all she has to do is dust-up the place for "seven plunks a week." 

Mrs. Phillips is on the committee of the Society For The betterment Of Humanity and receives the members every month for a meeting. After speaking with Gordon on the plight of such poverty and apalling circumstances, she declares that she will take in Amarilly and use her as an example of what improvement in society can do for one's life. This shall be an experiment in charity. Amarilly is to be groomed for society.

Cleaning girl.Two weeks later our mop girl is miserable and lanquishing for Clothes-Line Alley. A tea party is held for Ma and the boys as by now Mrs. Phillips is coldly aware of Gordon's idea to marry Amarilly and she wishes to disgrace and embarrass the family so Gordon will realise that Miss Colette King, a socialite bud, is the correct choice for him. No need to remark that Ma and her brothers behave in their natural manner and all falls apart at the tea, especially when Ma dances a spirited jig. The smallest Jenkins needs his runny nose wiped frequently--a real gag for the posh ladies. The gathering is astonished as such a low-class display and there are many "tuts" of disapproval. Gordon is left to obey his Aunt or else. Fearful of losing her favour and money, he agrees to take Miss Colette as his bride. It seems a perfect match... although, what has become of Terry? He has snubbed Amarilly since she became somewhat engaged to Gordon and his heart has frozen over with jealousy.

We know that true love endures in old movies, so Terry will still get his long-awaited kiss. He even buys violets to show her just how grand his love is. Gordon return to visit Amarilly one last time, though she set him right with Alley wisdom by explaining that it would not have worked out anyway because ice-cream does not go with pickles. As Terry walks towards the home of his love he is accidently shot by Snitch who is clumsily pulling a gun out of his jacket. Yes, it's a sad story, but all is well. The Alley continues in its bliss and so do Amarilly and Terry who wheel out of the screen on the beloved motor-bike with a couple of additions in the side car. 


Candy Jar.This flicker is old fashioned romance, great puckered-up actors and a script that, although silent, speaks of the way we must have our endings. Mary Pickford has a lovely, natural style with ringlets and butterfly eyelashes. Terry and Gordon fit the roles and our Mrs. David Phillips is a marvellous, girdled society lady not to be outdone or over-ruled. End of movie.

I suggest a bag of chocolate-striped humbugs for this show. After the curtain draws you must have the delight of a chocolate-dipped cherry icecream bombe in the foyer; although sophisticated viewers prefer black cats and milk bottles. Keep your ticket stub for your scrapbook and swap around to add to your collection of Mary Pickford pictures. Sometimes I think icecream is better finished off with chewy mints, the milky sort, but if you indulge in the extras, like a double milkshake, you might end up with the sugar blahs at bedtime. This is easily remedied with warm milk and malt powder. I think?

As an addition, this is how the novel tells us about the family:

She was the eldest of the House of Jenkins, whose scions, numbering eight, were all wage-earners save Iry, the baby. After school hours Flamingus was a district messenger, Gus milked the grocer's cow, Milton worked in a shoe-shining establishment, Bobby and Bud had paper routes, while Cory, commonly called "Co," wiped dishes at a boarding-house. Notwithstanding all these contributions to the family revenue, it became a sore struggle for the widow of Americanus Jenkins to feed and clothe such a numerous brood, so she sought further means of maintenance.

If you had a good olden-days hour, then put a penny in my tip jar so I can keep myself in toffees. Do see all the other movies and there are many more in the line-up. Don't forget you can read the novel Clothes-Line Alley written by Belle K. Maniates (online here). See you in the foyer.

Helping out.

How sweet.


Dear ma.

Fans! After the featured flicker, glide into the Red Velvet Foyer for tempting vintage chocolate boxes, icecream, sodas, ginger beer and candy. Everything is free.

Gold Candy.                Gold candy.                 Gold candy.