Sparrows is a 1926 American silent film about a young woman who rescues a baby from kidnappers. The film, which was originally titled Scraps, starred and was produced by Mary Pickford, who was the most powerful woman in Hollywood at the time.
|Directed by||William Beaudine|
Tom McNamara (uncredited)
|Written by||Winifred Dunn (story)|
C. Gardner Sullivan (adaptation)
George Marion Jr. (titles)
|Produced by||Mary Pickford|
Gustav von Seyffertitz
|Edited by||Harold McLernon|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Language||Silent (English intertitles)|
|Box office||$966,878 (rentals)|
Most of the children are orphans. One mother sends her child a doll, but Grimes crushes its head and tosses it into the swamp.
The children are ordered to hide any time someone comes to the farm. When a hog buyer shows up, Ambrose, the Grimeses' son, maliciously prevents Splutters, one of the children, from hiding. The buyer then purchases the boy from Grimes.
Molly has promised the others that God will rescue them. When a boy asks why nothing has happened after a month, she tells him that He is busy attending to sparrows (a biblical reference).
Ambrose catches Molly with stolen potatoes, so she and the others are given no supper. She pleads for the children, especially the sick, youngest baby, to no avail. Late that night, in a vision, Christ enters the barn where they sleep and takes the baby. When Molly wakes up, the child is dead.
Joe Bailey and his associate bring a kidnapped baby girl to the farm for concealment until they receive a ransom from the rich father, Dennis Wayne. When Grimes reads about the kidnapping in the newspaper several days later, he decides it is safer to chuck the baby into the swamp.
When Ambrose grabs the little girl to carry out the plan, Molly gets her back. After she fights off Grimes with a pitchfork, he strands her in the hayloft and decides he must get rid of her, too.
That night, Molly flees with the children. Grimes finds this hilarious; he figures either the mud or the alligators will take care of the children. However, when the kidnappers come back for the baby, he leads them on a search.
Meanwhile, Splutters is brought to the police station, having been discovered by one of the search parties. He tells the policemen and Mr. Wayne about the baby farm.
Molly and the kids emerge unscathed from the swamp and hide aboard a boat, unaware it belongs to the kidnappers. Pursued by the police, Grimes runs into the swamp, but falls into deep mud and perishes, while the two criminals flee in the boat. Unable to shake the harbor patrol, they try to slip away in a dinghy, but are run over and drown.
The baby is reunited with her wealthy father, but when she refuses to drink her milk without Molly, Mr. Wayne offers Molly a comfortable home. She accepts only on condition that he take in the other children as well.
However, Hal Mohr, the film's director of photography, debunked this story, saying "There wasn't an alligator within ten miles of Miss Pickford," and revealing in precise detail how the effect was done.
An earlier version of the "Jesus in the barn" scene was filmed in which the dead baby's spirit was carried to Heaven by a phosphorescent angel. The scene was rejected in favor of the Jesus take.
Milestone Film & Video released the Library of Congress restoration of Sparrows to DVD and Blu-ray in November 6, 2012 as part of a box set called Rags and Riches: Mary Pickford Collection, and contains an audio commentary track by film historians Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta.