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OCTOBER 11-26

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“America’s Sweetheart” was not actually an American, and was not really named Mary Pickford. Born Gladys Smith in Toronto, she started working on stage at age 5 and made her first movie at 16. Although she continued playing children’s roles into her 30s, Pickford was a tough negotiator with a sharp mind for business; she helped found United Artists with Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, and her husband Douglas Fairbanks in 1919. This series begins with 1920’s Suds, in which Pickford plays a laundress who manufactures a story about a rich beau (Oct. 11 at 12:30 p.m.), and concludes with its only talkie—and Pickford’s last screen role—1935’s Secrets, in which Pickford suffers the hardships of the Old West (Oct. 26 at noon). In between are several typical Pickford efforts about girls with big dreams and small means, as well as such curiosities as Little Lord Fauntleroy, in which Pickford plays both mother and son (and kisses herself via double exposure) (Oct. 11 at 3:30 p.m.), and Sparrows, an uncharacteristic thriller about a child-labor camp menaced by alligators (Oct. 18 at 12:30 p.m.). At the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th & Constitution Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 737-4215. (Mark Jenkins)