NOV. 2-5

For much of her 34-year acting career, the actress for whom the Library of Congress’ film theater is named was known as “America’s Sweetheart”—even though she was Canadian and a lot more than just a winsome leading lady. Born Gladys Smith, Pickford exerted great control over her star vehicles and was one of the five Hollywood luminaries who founded a filmmaker-controlled studio, United Artists, in 1919. (The others were Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, William S. Hart, and Pickford’s second husband, Douglas Fairbanks.) Pickford ended up owning most of her early silent films—and once planned to have them burned at her death. She changed her mind, though, so present-day fans can still see her performances in this retrospective of films made between 1909, her first year as a screen actress, and 1918. The first program (at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2) shows Pickford in wartime roles in two Griffith-directed shorts and a Cecil B. DeMille feature, The Little American (pictured); the second (at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3) demonstrates some of the actress’ less glamorous parts in two more Griffith shorts and a William D. Taylor feature, Johanna Enlists. The last lineup (at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5) presents the actress’ rarest films: two shorts from Pickford’s early days as the Biograph Co.’s “Biograph Girl”; The Mirror, a recently discovered one-reeler; and The Foundling, one of the best of the many films in which Pickford played an abused orphan. At the Library of Congress’ Pickford Theater, 1st and Independence Avenue SE. Free. For reservations call (202) 707-5677. (Mark Jenkins)