The Movies in the Age of Innocence – By Edward Wagenknecht (1962) PDF download

Of Film and I, and How This Book Unwittingly Got Itself Started

I remember once seeing a book described as the work of a good scholar on holiday. Whether I am a good scholar or not must be left for others to judge, but I have certainly written what are generally called scholarly books, and I have surely enjoyed a delightful holiday working on this one, especially during the period which I devoted to reviewing old films and coming about as close as possible to living my life over again. I do not of course mean that I have wrought carelessly. This book will appear in my literary chronology between a study of Washington Irving and a study of Edgar Allan Poe, and I think the confrontations involved quite delightful. Many of the same techniques which I applied in writing my histories of the English and American novel are used again here. Yet there is a difference between reading manuscripts at the Houghton and Morgan libraries and watching films at George Eastman House and the Museum of Modern Art Film Library, and somehow one turns over the files of Photoplay Magazine and The Moving Picture World in a different spirit from that in which one searches out articles in PMLA and Modem Philology, This volume is not a definitive history of the silent film. I once cherished the hope of writing such a history, and this book was conceived as a preliminary study for it. Now I do not quite see how anybody could ever produce such a history. Most of the requisite material is unavailable, and if it were here it would be quite too overwhelming to get through. (Edward Wagenknecht)

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The movies in the age of innocence

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Griffith’s Next Big Film is ‘Babylon’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1918)

  • Los Angeles Herald, Volume XLIV, Number 51, 31 December 1918

With lines as long as a showman’s dream pounding against the box office where “The Greatest Thing in Life” is showing, D. W. Griffith announces he is going to take off the big holiday hit Saturday night and replace it with the story of “Babylon” taken from his stupendous “Intolerance.” So many requests received from every section of the country at the time Mr. Griffith’s spectacle was first shown, have finally led him to release the story of Babylon as a separate and distinct picture. In the former version there were about three reels dealing with the destruction of the city. The new play, however, contains the complete historical romance of the mountain girl who would have saved her city had her king been sufficiently sober to listen to her warnings. Embellished with thousands of feet of photographs taken in the actual valley of the Euphrates, the new production contains but a passing resemblance to the story of “Intolerance.’’ The massive spectacle of the destruction of the city is there with several hundred scenes added, bringing out the vanished glory of that ancient time in a way that was not attempted in the “Intolerance’’ version. Constance Talmadge is seen as the mountain girl, supported by a cast that can never again be gathered. It includes Tully Marshall, Elmer Clifton. Mildred Harris Chaplin, George Siegmann, Seena Owen, Elmo Lincoln and many others who have since earned their right to stardom. The presentation of “The Fall of Babylon” will begin with the matinee performance at Clune’s Auditorium next Monday.

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Dinner at Eight and His Double Life at West Coast (San Bernardino Sun, 1934)

  • San Bernardino Sun, Volume 40, 25 March 1934
  • Dinner at Eight at West Coast

“Dinner at Eight” with its superlative all-star cast, and “His Double Life,” a provoking comedy featuring Lillian Gish and Roland Young, make up the splendid double-feature program opening today at the Fox West Coast theater. The cast of “Dinner at Eight” practically tells the story, and when this array of excellent actors is combined with a plot both clever, amusing and dramatic, there is nothing more to ask for. The beloved Marie Dressler is there with John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow, Lionel Barrymore, Lee Tracy, Edmund Lowe, Billie Burke, Madge Evans, Jean Hersholt, Karen Morley, Louise Closser Hale, Phillips Holmes, May Robson and half a dozen more. “His Double Life” will provide plenty of laughs as well as the first glimpse of Lillian Gish on the screen in many a month. Miss Gish, who once held the brightest of spotlights in films, has devoted most of her time in recent years to the legitimate stage.

His Double Life – Photo Gallery

His Double Life – The Film (Paramount)

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Last Showing at Opera House for “Hearts of the World” (San Bernardino Sun, 1918)

  • San Bernardino Sun, Volume 48, Number 90, 13 June 1918
  • Last Showing at Opera House for “Hearts of the World”

Robert Harron, the Boy, and Lillian Gish, the Girl, have for this picture done the best work of their respective careers. As the daredevil American of the French troops, Robert Harron wins favor by his unostentatious bravery and Yankee pluck. He is the central figure in numerous hand-to-hand fights that for ferociousness are different from screen encounters heretofore shown.

Lillian Gish and Riobert Harron – Hearts of the World

There has been a very noticeably change in Miss Gish’s style of acting, and this is by far the greatest work she has ever done. Dorothy Gish, as the little disturber, a strolling singer, was applauded- almost every time she appeared on the screen, each time with more enthusiasm.

Dorothy as “The Little Disturber”

Dorothy Gish has been popular heretofore, but this play will make for her a niche in stardom few actresses have been successful in attaining. As the boy’s companions of the French company, Robert Anderson and George Fawcett were easily the other favorites of the male contingent of the big cast, while little Ben Alexander, age about four years, steps forth as an infant prodigy.

Lillian Gish in Hearts of The World

Those who saw “The Clansman” remember George Siegmann’s “Lynch,” and will find him giving a characterization equally as remarkable. His role is that of Von Strohm, the German secret service agent. Other former Griffith players seen to advantage in this most recent success are Josephine Crowell, Kate Bruce and Anna May Walthall.

Hearts of the World – Photo Gallery

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“Way Down East” at Opera House (San Bernardino Sun, 1921)

  • San Bernardino Sun, Volume 48, Number 144, 23 January 1921
  • D.W. Griffith’s “Way Down East”

Opera House, Commencing Tomorrow Night at 8 o’clock

D. W. Griffith’s cinema masterpiece, “Way Down East,” commences a five nights and four matinees engagement tomorrow night, January 24. The evenings commence at 8 o’clock and the matinees at 2 o’clock. Note display announcement for prices.

San Bernardino Sun, Volume 48, Number 144, 23 January 1921

Lillian Gish – In the leading role in D. W. Griffith’s “Way Down East,” has achieved a success that at once places her in the foremost rank of American actresses. Richard Barthelmess, Mrs. Morgan Belmont, a social leader; Creighton Hale, Kate Bruce, Vivia Ogden, Mary Hay, Burr Mcintosh, George Neville, Edgar Nelson, Lowell Sherman, Porter Strong, Florence Short and others are seen. As usual with Griffith production, there in a thematic score played by a large orchestra, and the music is a succession of delightful melodies and impressive compositions, accentuating each situation.

San Bernardino Sun, Volume 48, Number 144, 23 January 1921 advert

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Voice of Lillian Gish Registered in ‘One Romantic Night’ (Eagle Rock Sentinel, 1930)

  • Eagle Rock Sentinel, Volume XXII, Number 50, 6 June 1930
  • Voice of Lillian Gish Registered in ‘One Romantic Night’

No other player In the history of the screen has been associated with more great pictures than Lillian Gish, the famous star whose voice is heard for the first time at the Fox Alexander theater in United Artists “One Romantic Night.” Wherever unprejudiced commentators gather to discuss the artistic and commercial merit of “The Birth of a Nation,” “Intolerance,” “Hearts of the World,” “Orphans of the Storm.” “Broken Blossoms” and ‘‘Way Down East” invariably top the list.  As Alexandra, in United Artists’ dialogue screen adaption of the noted Ferenc Molnar play, ‘The Swan,” Miss Gish believes she has the greatest role of her career. “One Romantic Night” is the star’s first all talking picture. In the notable cast with her are Rod La Rocque, Conrad Nagel, Marie Dressler and O. P. Heggie. This all star supporting cast is further augmented by Albeit Conti, Edgar Norton, Billie Bennett, Phillip De Lacy and Byron Sage. Paul Stein directed the production. The short subjects include a comedy, a novelty and the latest Fox Movietone News.

Never had she looked more lovely. No longer a victim of tyranny, brutality and betrayal, but a Princess, as rare as any out of a fairy tale, with a palace and a rose garden and suitors, with a lilting, perfectly-timed voice, Lillian appeared to have come into her own.

One Romantic Night – The Swan

Director: Paul L. Stein

Writers: Maxwell Anderson (adaptation) Melville Baker (adaptation) 3 May 1930 (USA)

•          Lillian Gish …….… Princess Alexandra

•          Rod La Rocque ………..… Prince Albert

•          Conrad Nagel ….. Dr. Nicholas Haller

•          Marie Dressler …… Princess Beatrice

•          O.P. Heggie …………..… Father Benedict

•          Albert Conti ………………. Count Lutzen

•          Edgar Norton ….. Colonel Wunderlich

•          Billie Bennett … Princess Symphorosa

•          Philippe De Lacy …….… Prince George

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A Life on Stage and Screen – by STUART ODERMAN (Electronic Format)

On February 27, 1993, Lillian, like all good art, became eternal.


“Any artist has just so much to give.

The important thing is to give it all.

Sometimes it’s more than you think.”

Lillian was just making another disappearance.

Lillian Gish – A Life on Stage and Screen – cover

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The Movies, Mr. Griffith and Me – 1969 (Download electronic format)

The Movies, Mr. Griffith and Me

By Lillian Gish & Ann Pinchot (Englewood Cliffs, NJ Prentice-Hall, 1969)

Colorful, lively, and moving memoir of a giant of the early screen, actress Lillian Gish. Her story is inseparable with the history of the movies, from the early days, when the pioneers of the industry worked long hours through hardship and cold, public criticism through the horrors of war, and the proverty of the Depression. She knew them all: Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Rudolh Valentino, Noel Coward, Erich Von Stroheim, and many more. She talks about the director of many of her films, D.W. Griffith (David Wark Griffith), whose consuming passion creating new ways to tell stories on celluloid. A long-time member of his company, she separates the man from the legend. She exposes the very personal, human side of this early Hollywood legend, warts and all.

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The Movies Mr.Griffith and Me

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