A House Built upon Sand – By Anthony Slide – 1980

The kindergarten of the movies : a history of the Fine Arts Company

A House Built upon Sand – By Anthony Slide – 1980

A House Built upon Sand is noteworthy for Lillian Gish’s wearing $6,000 worth of gowns. As the shallow wife who learns to respect and obey her husband, Lillian Gish was praised by the critics. In Motion Picture News (January 6, 1917), Peter Milne wrote, “She plays well. Her forte is comedy and in it a certain theatrical tone in her work, which is apt to be taken for insincerity, is more appropriate. Hers is in general a fetching performance.”

To play opposite Lillian Gish in The House Built upon Sand, Fine Arts brought in Roy Stuart, who had made his mark in Lois Weber productions at Universal, and who, as The Moving Picture World (December 23, 1916) noted, “physically is one of the largest screen heroes to gain attention, standing some 6 feet 3 inches in height and weighing 210 pounds.” In other words, he looked bulky, middle-aged and somewhat unattractive.

A House Built Upon Sand

Griffith left undiscussed the sordid question of how much money Adolph Zukor had offered him to join Artcraft. Artcraft issued a similar, shorter statement: “Mr. Griffith intends to concentrate his time and energy in such a manner as to create a number of subjects of wide dramatic and scenic scope in order to comply with the insistent public demand for more Griffith productions. Mr. Griffith’s producing force will operate wherever necessary to obtain the startling realism for which this noted director is famous. ” With Griffith’s departure from Fine Arts, Frank Woods tendered his resignation as did Edward Dillon. Lillian Gish, Robert Harron and Lloyd Ingraham were under personal contract to D. W. Griffith and also left. Alma Rubens’ Fine Arts contract was taken over by Ince. Bernard McConville signed a contract with Fox, and two other Fine Arts screen writers, Mary H. O’Connor and Roy Somerville, resigned.

It was announced that Thomas Ince would produce all future Fine Arts films at his Culver City studios. Triangle hastily issued a statement,

“According to the most carefully compiled reports of unprejudiced film critics Triangle releases, produced under the supervision of Thomas H. Ince, have been the best box-office attractions of any program releases produced during the part year. This fact confirms the claim of Ince adherents that the presiding genius of Culver City is perhaps the greatest supervising director that the motion picture industry has yet produced, that it is a noteworthy fact that Ince had outdistanced all competitors in his ability to keep his organization running at the top notch of efficiency month in and month out. No other producer can be called to mind with a list of successes equally imposing, turned out in the regular course of events. Ince is not only a director of the highest quality himself, but he possesses the much rarer accomplishments of being able to stimulate his subordinates to their best endeavors under all circumstances.”

How soon did Triangle choose to forget Griffith’s contribution to its fame!

Excerpts from

  • THE KINDERGARTEN OF THE MOVIES:
  • A History of the Fine Arts Company by
  • Anthony Slide – 1980

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