Nothing new under the sun … History (always written by the victors) repeats itself. After Lillian Gish filmed “His Double Life” (1933), she didn’t make another film for ten years. When she did return in 1943, she played in two big-budget pictures, Commandos Strike at Dawn (1942) and Top Man (1943). The Cobweb (1955) marks the return of Lillian Gish to MGM after a 22-year absence.
Are the Stars Doomed? (Photoplay Magazine)
The case of Lillian Gish is significant. She was getting about $8000 a week from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Her pictures did not bring in a return sufficient to justify a renewal of her contract. Today Lillian Gish doesn’t know where she’s going, but she is on her way to United Artists. Joe Schenck has offered her shelter under that program, but nothing more—no huge salary. Miss Gish must discover her own stories, select her own casts, provide her own director, risk her own money. The star is not enthralled by this idea, as Gloria Swanson was.
THE only director she wants — the Swedish Seastrom—is under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Lillian has already used up all her story ideas. “The White Sister ” was made at her suggestion. So, too, were “Romola,” “The Scarlet Letter” and “LaBoheme.” Remembering their box office results, Lillian is quite justified in the suspicion that she is not a good story picker. However, Metro – Goldwyn – Mayer alone was responsible for that prize flop, “Annie Laurie.”
There are many critics who regard Miss Gish as our greatest artist. Certainly she has a loyal and large following. She has been acting since she was six years old.
Yet here, midway in her career, she is forced into the role of producer if she is to continue to draw a huge salary. The answer to the headline question at the beginning of this tale of woe is that stars (outstanding personalities) will go on as long as the motion picture continues in its present form.
Great pictures can be made without stars, but stars cannot be made without great pictures.