The Kid Reporter
About the Film
This 1923 Century Studio comedy features a four-year-old Baby Peggy spoofing The Cub Reporter, a feature released earlier that year starring Douglas Fairbanks’s former stunt man Richard Talmadge. Adorable Baby Peggy gets all the action here, of course, challenging her editor to let her cover a big story then disguising herself as a man (complete with monocle and moustache) when he doesn’t. Diana Serra Cary, the real-life Baby Peggy, wrote for 2005’s Pordenone film festival that her character is more than mere comic fodder, calling her “a surreptitious symbol and role model for the growing female work force … beginning to invade America’s business world.” She also recalls in her notes that the tall Blanche Payson who plays a cop in the film was formerly of the L.A. police and wore her old uniform for the shoot, but mostly she remembers the painful bits of production, including the hours of practice it took before she could securely wear the monocle while being held upside-down and thrown out a window. The mansion in the film belonged to director Frank Borzage, a close friend of the film’s director (Alf Goulding), and the motorboat scene—with Peggy riding out to the open sea—was shot at San Pedro Harbor south of Los Angeles while the rowboat scenes were shot in Echo Park. This screening is dedicated to Diana Serra Cary who died in 2020 at 101 years old. Turn to “Baby Peggy, Everybody’s Darling” for more on the child star turned child-actor advocate.
About the Restoration
Sadly, a fire that gutted Century Film’s studio in 1926 took Baby Peggy’s films with it, but this comedy short from the child star’s prodigious output was luckily held at the British Film Institute. Embossed with the logo of a Swiss distributor, BFI’s nitrate print had both French and German intertitles. The dual-language intertitles have been replaced with English translations and designed in a style consistent with other Century Film comedies of the time.
San Francisco Silent Film Festival
British Film Institute National Archive