MOVING PICTURE WORLD May 21, 1927
Through the Box Office Window – By C.S. Sewell
Lillian Gish in Her Latest Production Makes a Shift From New England to Old Scotland Locale
ANNIE LAURIE, as a song is known the world around. As a play title it suggests no particular plot, leaving the scenarist free to fill in an outline with any desired material, unhampered by the genuinely useful selling title. In the new Lillian Gish production one of the famous Scotch feuds has been used as the background for a love story in which romance is considerably overshadowed by virile melodrama. But it is melodrama of epic quality, and as entertainment it should possess greater audience appeal than “The Scarlet Letter.”
There is historical basis for the story of the feud of the Clan Macdonald against the Camerons and all who sided with them. But history is not laboriously developed at the cost of plot action. It is the background, not the backbone of the story as told. It never intrudes, and the result is rapidly moving plot, rising to a strong climax; scenes of fighting men and women with hearts as brave. It is a stern and rugged, but gripping picture of the Scotland of the past century, colorful, appealing, and convincing in spite of a large number of painted exteriors that clearly are paint and paper mache. That the story rises splendidly above this handicap is the greatest tribute to the author and director ; more particularly to the latter, for John S. Robertson has painted with a master stroke.
As a vehicle for Miss Gish the result is not so successful. It is seldom that even her fine art enables her to dominate the story. This is a story of men, and she often has to yield to Norman Kerry, as the fighting leader of the Macdonalds. Kerry, as a cave man Scot, has one of the best roles of his career, and he makes the most of it. In tender moments Miss Gish does come into her own, and she shares the interest in the climatic scenes, but the story is such that the greater plot interest always lies to the Macdonald. Her work has never been more free from the mannerisms which marred many of her early roles, and she played with an emotional sincerity that gripped whenever the situation enabled her to overcome the fact that she merely was the objective and not the protagonist of the story. Creighton Hale was admirable as the villainous son of the Campbells. He avoided overplaying and stayed well within the picture.
Joseph Striker made an appealing Alastair, younger son of the Macdonalds, who won the love of Enid Campbell, and the role of the latter was well played by Patricia Avery whose few fine moments were not cut through the petty jealousy of the star. Miss Gish let her make the most of, her scenes; a rather unusual situation in a star production. Hobart Bosworth, Russell Simpson, Brandon Hurst and David Torrence all contributed to the general good effect, but it was Kerry’s picture and he dominated the men players. The fight scenes were magnificently handled, and there were many charming natural settings to offset the painted sets. Composition, lighting and photography united to make the play an artistic treat to the eye, just as the story appealed to the mind. “Annie Laurie” may not be an ideal vehicle for Miss Gish, but it should be an unusual popular success.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer present “Annie Laurie” with Lillian Gish
Suggested by the famous song – Directed by John S. Robertson
Annie Laurie …………………….. Lillian Gish
Ian Macdonald …………….. Norman Kerry
Donald ………………………….. Creighton Hale
Alastair ………………………… Joseph Striker
MacDonald …………….. Hobart Bosworth
Sandy ……………………….. Russell Simpson
Enid …………………………….. Patricia Avery
Length—8,730 Feet .
In the feud between the Camerons and the MacDonalds, Donald Cameron finds a reason for more personal enmity as Ian MacDonald wins the love of Annie Laurie whom he loves in a self-centered way. Through treachery he nearly decimates the MacDonald. Annie brings them aid, definitely casting her lot with Ian. A romance of stirring Scottish days.