The Cardboard Baby (1909)

Fantasy | 24 December 1909

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HISTORY

The 8 Jan 1910 Moving Picture World ran the following review: “A modern fairy story that will please the little people, and is the first in the series of releases which are to be provided especially for the children. Perhaps some little folks will get a valuable lesson from Elsie's experience, but probably the fairy story will interest them most, and the company that worked out this story deserves congratulations. The conception of vivifying a cardboard baby is odd enough to attract attention, and the surprising adventures serve to keep up the interest throughout the film. The company has advanced in its photography, too, a feature which deserves the heartiest commendation. A lively picture like this is certain to attract much favorable attention and a long and successful run is predicted for this ...

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The 8 Jan 1910 Moving Picture World ran the following review: “A modern fairy story that will please the little people, and is the first in the series of releases which are to be provided especially for the children. Perhaps some little folks will get a valuable lesson from Elsie's experience, but probably the fairy story will interest them most, and the company that worked out this story deserves congratulations. The conception of vivifying a cardboard baby is odd enough to attract attention, and the surprising adventures serve to keep up the interest throughout the film. The company has advanced in its photography, too, a feature which deserves the heartiest commendation. A lively picture like this is certain to attract much favorable attention and a long and successful run is predicted for this release.”

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HISTORY CREDITS
CREDIT TYPE
CREDIT
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Moving Picture World
18 Dec 1909
p. 872tn, 888ada.
Moving Picture World
25 Dec 1909
p. 928ta, 929ts, 940tl.
Moving Picture World
31 Dec 1909
p. 953ar.
Moving Picture World
8 Jan 1910
p. 18r.
NYDM
25 Dec 1909
p. 17r.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT

NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
24 December 1909
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
855
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

“A modern fairy story for American children. Scene I: Elsie Neglects Her Lessons and Has Her Dollie Taken Away. ‘You see, it was this way: I was sitting on our front porch trying to do my lessons, but I just couldn't seem to get them and at last I threw down my slate and books and began to play with dollie. Mamma came out just then and when she found that I did not know my lessons she scolded me dreadfully and took dollie away and said that I could not have her again until I finished my lessons. I was awfully mad and I guess I acted real horrid and I'm sorry for it now. Anyhow, I finished at last, but was awfully tired by that time and I suppose I fell asleep, for the next thing I remember... Scene II: Elsie's Dream. ‘I was running down the garden path, just as a big wagon was passing the house. It had a baby food sign on it. I had made up my mind to run away to some place where I wouldn't have to study any more lessons. As I was crossing the street I looked down, and what do you think? I found a big Cardboard Baby, just like the one I saw in the drug store window. It must have fallen off the wagon. Scene III: "Maybe you think I wasn't happy to think that I had found the Cardboard Baby. Of course, it wasn't as nice as dollie, but it was better than nothing to play with. So I took it into the park. Scene IV: The Fairy Gives Elsie the Elixir of Life. ‘And ...

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“A modern fairy story for American children. Scene I: Elsie Neglects Her Lessons and Has Her Dollie Taken Away. ‘You see, it was this way: I was sitting on our front porch trying to do my lessons, but I just couldn't seem to get them and at last I threw down my slate and books and began to play with dollie. Mamma came out just then and when she found that I did not know my lessons she scolded me dreadfully and took dollie away and said that I could not have her again until I finished my lessons. I was awfully mad and I guess I acted real horrid and I'm sorry for it now. Anyhow, I finished at last, but was awfully tired by that time and I suppose I fell asleep, for the next thing I remember... Scene II: Elsie's Dream. ‘I was running down the garden path, just as a big wagon was passing the house. It had a baby food sign on it. I had made up my mind to run away to some place where I wouldn't have to study any more lessons. As I was crossing the street I looked down, and what do you think? I found a big Cardboard Baby, just like the one I saw in the drug store window. It must have fallen off the wagon. Scene III: "Maybe you think I wasn't happy to think that I had found the Cardboard Baby. Of course, it wasn't as nice as dollie, but it was better than nothing to play with. So I took it into the park. Scene IV: The Fairy Gives Elsie the Elixir of Life. ‘And as I was running by the big fountain, I stumbled and fell on the Cardboard Baby, breaking it. Of course that nearly broke my heart, too, and I began to cry, when suddenly I looked up and my heart nearly stopped beating, for there before me, was the most beautiful fairy, just like I read about in my book of fairy stories. Well, she asked why I was crying and I told her. Then she said that if I would promise to be good and always obey my mother and study my lessons and never lose my temper, that she would give me something that would make the Cardboard Baby come to life any time I wanted it to. Of course I promised and then she held out her hand and--I don't know where it came from, but while I was looking at her hand, all of a sudden, a bottle appeared in it, and on the bottle in large letters it said. “Elixir of Life.” She handed me the bottle and I read the directions and when I looked up again she was gone. I was awful sorry for that and looked all around for her. Well at last I decided to try and bring the baby to life, so I pulled the cork out of the bottle and dropped one little drop of the Elixir on the Cardboard Baby, and, would you believe it, standing right before me, was the prettiest little live baby I had ever seen. It was just exactly like the Cardboard Baby, only it was alive. I was dreadfully scared at first, but when I touched its face and it smiled at me, I just loved it, and loved it and started right home to show it to mamma, only... Scene V: ‘I met Howard and Minnie Stoart at their front gate and we all went to play in their yard. Scene VI: Elsie's Little Playmates are Frightened. ‘Howard ran on ahead with Minnie to the front lawn and I followed with the baby, wondering what they would think if they knew about the baby. We started playing “Ring-a-round-the-Rosy,” when all of a sudden, the baby turned to cardboard again. My! Wasn't Howard and Minnie scared. Howard fell over backward and then both of them ran away screaming. Of course I followed them. Scene VII: ‘I tried to catch them and called them back, but they were too scared and at last I was all out of breath from laughing and running and just had to stop. Then I brought the baby to life again and we started home once more. Scene VIII: Fun With Mike, the Gardener. ‘But we met old Mike, the gardener. He was busy picking up old pieces of paper and dead leaves and taking them away in his wheelbarrow. I called to him and he stopped and when he saw the baby he just fell in love with her, and sat down on the wheelbarrow and took baby on his lap and began to tell us a story. Just then the baby turned to cardboard again. I wish you had been there to see it. You would have died laughing. Mike was nearly scared to death and fell over the wheelbarrow. He was so scared and tried to get away so fast that he fell all over himself. I tried to hold him and explain, but he got away. Wasn't he the foolish old tiling? I brought baby to life again and started home once more. Scene IX: ‘I was feeling so happy by this time that I felt like singing and dancing and so I grabbed baby's bands and began to dance with her, when, what do you think? She turned to cardboard again. After that I thought that I would take her home that way and show mamma how I could bring her to life. Scene X: The Cardboard Baby Meets With an Accident. ‘On the way home, I stopped at a pretty lake near our house, to feed the swans. I leaned the Cardboard Baby against the wall and as I was stooping to pick up something to give the swans, the Cardboard Baby fell into the lake. I don't know which of us was the most upset. I couldn't reach it so I got a stick and after a lot of hard work I got her out, but my, she was a sight! All soaked with water just like a dishrag. So I spread her on the ground to dry. Scene XI: Elsie Loses Her Temper and the Fairy Punishes Her. ‘When it was dry it was almost as good as new, only its dress and its hair was all mussed up. So I got the bottle and brought the baby to life again so that I could straighten its clothes and hair. When it came to life it acted awful contrary. Just wouldn't stand still and I suppose I must have forgotten my promise to the fairy and lost my temper, because I was just about to slap baby's face when it turned to cardboard again, and I looked up and there stood the fairy, with the saddest look on her face. My! but I was scared. Because I know I had done wrong. The fairy said I had broken my word to her and that I could never bring the Cardboard Baby to life any more. She made me give her the bottle and then she threw it against the wall and smashed it, and was gone. I picked up the pieces of broken bottle and then I realized how bad I had been and fell on the ground sobbing. Scene XII: Elsie Awakens and Resolves Never to Lose Her Temper Again. ‘Mother says that when she came out on the porch I was asleep, but was sobbing as if my heart would break. I told her about my dream and promised to be good and when she found that I had done my lessons before I went to sleep, she gave me back my dollie, and I was happy once more. Anyway, I believe I love dollie best after all. But one thing is certain, I do believe in fairies.’”—25 Dec 1909 Moving Picture World

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
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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.