Through the Back Door (1921)

Comedy | 4 May 1921

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HISTORY

Principal photography took place on the Pickford Stage at Brunton Studios in Los Angeles, CA, according to a 26 Mar 1921 brief in Moving Picture World. Priceless jewelry belonging to actress Mary Pickford and her mother, Mrs. Charlotte Pickford, were reportedly used in the film, as part of Gertrude Astor’s costume. The 5 Feb 1921 Motion Picture Magazine noted production was underway, and that three more weeks were needed to complete filming. A late Mar 1921 release date was anticipated. However, post-production was not yet finished as of mid-Apr 1921, according to a 16 Apr 1921 Moving Picture World item, which named Edward M. McDermott, “chief cutter for the Mary Pickford Company,” as editor, and stated that Gerald Duffy was writing titles. According to the 23 Apr 1921 Moving Picture World, titling was done at Pickfair, the Beverly Hills, CA, home of Mary Pickford and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks. A mid-May 1921 release date was anticipated.
       According to an 18 Mar 1921 Var item, the film was set to premiere in Mexico City, Mexico, where Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks would be celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary on 27 Mar 1921. The premiere would mark the first time a U.S. film was shown out of the country prior to its domestic debut.
       Through the Back Door opened 4 May 1921 at the Mission Theatre in Los Angeles, as noted in the 6 May 1921 Var. According to the 28 May 1921 Exhibitors Herald, long lines of moviegoers awaiting entry to the Mission prompted the ire of a nearby theater owner, who filed ... More Less

Principal photography took place on the Pickford Stage at Brunton Studios in Los Angeles, CA, according to a 26 Mar 1921 brief in Moving Picture World. Priceless jewelry belonging to actress Mary Pickford and her mother, Mrs. Charlotte Pickford, were reportedly used in the film, as part of Gertrude Astor’s costume. The 5 Feb 1921 Motion Picture Magazine noted production was underway, and that three more weeks were needed to complete filming. A late Mar 1921 release date was anticipated. However, post-production was not yet finished as of mid-Apr 1921, according to a 16 Apr 1921 Moving Picture World item, which named Edward M. McDermott, “chief cutter for the Mary Pickford Company,” as editor, and stated that Gerald Duffy was writing titles. According to the 23 Apr 1921 Moving Picture World, titling was done at Pickfair, the Beverly Hills, CA, home of Mary Pickford and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks. A mid-May 1921 release date was anticipated.
       According to an 18 Mar 1921 Var item, the film was set to premiere in Mexico City, Mexico, where Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks would be celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary on 27 Mar 1921. The premiere would mark the first time a U.S. film was shown out of the country prior to its domestic debut.
       Through the Back Door opened 4 May 1921 at the Mission Theatre in Los Angeles, as noted in the 6 May 1921 Var. According to the 28 May 1921 Exhibitors Herald, long lines of moviegoers awaiting entry to the Mission prompted the ire of a nearby theater owner, who filed a court action to keep the rival theater’s patrons from blocking his entrance.
       The New York City debut took place on 15 May 1921 at the Strand Theatre. The 20 May 1921 Var noted that the film played at the Strand “on the basis of $5,000 guarantee and 50 per cent of the receipts over $25,000.”
       Promotions for the film included a Mary Pickford impersonation contest for girls, aged 7-12, at the Winter Garden Theatre in Seattle, WA. Prizes were a dress and pair of shoes worn by Pickford in the picture. The 16 Jul 1921 Moving Picture World noted that Through the Back Door was the only film, beside The Birth of a Nation (1915, see entry), to be given “a second run at a first-class downtown theatre in Seattle.” Coincidentally, in late Jun 1921, Through the Back Door had replaced The Birth of a Nation at the Garrick Theatre in Los Angeles, after the 1915 film was banned from the city, in accordance with an order made by City Prosecutor E. W. Widney. The 1 Jul 1921 Var noted that the ban was prompted by “numerous letters of protest from various societies interested in the advancement of negroes.”
       As stated in the Nov 1921 issue of The Photodramatist, Mildred Considine sued Pickford for $10,000, claiming that her scenarist credit was left off the film. The case was expected to go to trial, but the outcome could not be determined as of the writing of this Note.
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Camera
16 Apr 1921
p. 4.
Exhibitors Herald
19 Mar 1921.
---
Exhibitors Herald
28 May 1921.
---
Exhibitors Trade Review
26 Nov 1921.
---
Film Daily
22 May 1921.
---
Motion Picture Magazine
5 Feb 1921.
---
Moving Picture World
26 Mar 1921.
---
Moving Picture World
16 Apr 1921.
---
Moving Picture World
23 Apr 1921.
---
Moving Picture World
21 May 1921.
---
Moving Picture World
16 Jul 1921.
---
New York Times
6 May 1921
p. 20.
The Photodramatist
Nov 1921.
---
Variety
18 Mar 1921.
---
Variety
6 May 1921.
---
Variety
20 May 1921.
---
Variety
1 Jul 1921.
---
Wid's Daily
7 May 1921
p. 1.
Wid's Daily
22 May 1921
p. 5.
DETAILS
Release Date:
4 May 1921
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 4 May 1921 at the Mission Theatre
New York opening: 15 May 1921 at the Strand Theatre
Production Date:
ended late February or early March 1921
Copyright Claimant:
Mary Pickford Co.
Copyright Date:
21 June 1921
Copyright Number:
LP16691
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
7,000
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

When Hortense Bodamere, a Belgian widow, marries wealthy New Yorker Elton Reeves, she is persuaded to leave her daughter Jeanne behind in the care of her nurse, Marie. Five years later, Mrs. Reeves sends for Jeanne, but Marie, who has married a farmer and brought up Jeanne as her own daughter, tells Hortense that the child is dead. With the outbreak of war, Marie sends Jeanne with two orphan boys to New York to the Reeves home. Jeanne is unable to reveal her identity and is given a job as maid. When she discovers that her stepfather is about to be victimized by the wiles of Margaret Brewster, however, Jeanne reveals herself; and Reeves, having recognized his error, becomes reconciled with his ... +


When Hortense Bodamere, a Belgian widow, marries wealthy New Yorker Elton Reeves, she is persuaded to leave her daughter Jeanne behind in the care of her nurse, Marie. Five years later, Mrs. Reeves sends for Jeanne, but Marie, who has married a farmer and brought up Jeanne as her own daughter, tells Hortense that the child is dead. With the outbreak of war, Marie sends Jeanne with two orphan boys to New York to the Reeves home. Jeanne is unable to reveal her identity and is given a job as maid. When she discovers that her stepfather is about to be victimized by the wiles of Margaret Brewster, however, Jeanne reveals herself; and Reeves, having recognized his error, becomes reconciled with his wife. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.