Amarilly Of Clothes-Line Alley (1918)
Starring Mary Pickford
Of Clothes-Line Alley
Directed by Marshall Neilan. Writers: Belle K. Maniates (novel, read
Frances Marion (film). A comedy-romance running 67
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'
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!
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.
and Terry stroll around the streets. A flower stall has violets for
.15 cents a bunch, but Terry is not extravagant. Pouting Amarilly must
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
with warm milk and malt powder. I think?
As an addition, this is how the novel tells
us about the family:
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
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.
Fans! After the featured flicker, glide into
Red Velvet Foyer for tempting vintage chocolate boxes,
icecream, sodas, ginger beer and candy. Everything is free.