Griffith comes back again with his screen version of “Way Down East,” and, as usual, the critics have little to report save good regarding one of his big productions. As has been the case in some of his previous pictures, this old melodrama will henceforth be more popular as a Griffith offering than it has proven during the many years that it has been an old standby on the boards.
Never before have such photography and light effects been accomplished for the screen. These, combined with the unusual settings which proclaim aloud their genuineness, render “Way Down East” the season’s most artistic production by far.
The original plot of the play has been elaborated upon and much invaluable human interest business has been inserted. The performances of the cast are very good and the New England types are excellent. Their action is materially assisted by the music score.
“Way Down East” – Lillian Gish
“Way Down East” – Lillian Gish – Bridal Suite
“Way Down East” – Lillian Gish — Anna Moore
“Way Down East” – Lillian Gish promotional
Lillian Gish – Ice Floe Scene – Way Down East
“Way Down East” – Lillian Gish (Anna Moore’s wedding dress)
Way Down East – “I baptize thee Trust Lennox …”
Lillian Gish undoubtedly does her best work to date as Anna Moore, the featured load. She combines subtly the simple-hearted childishness for which her characterizations have long been known with the hurt reserve that the spirit bruising knocks of a cruel world accomplish so quickly in dazed youth. There are few light touches in her offering, and it is much more effective so.
Lowell Sherman is exceptionally well cast as the heavy, Lennox Sanderson, whom he interprets cleverly. His work is convincing enough to gather for him the complete loathing of any audience.
“Way Down East” – Richard Barthelmess and Lillian Gish
“Way Down East” – Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess
“Way Down East” – Richard Barthelmess and Lillian Gish
Richard Barthelmess does David Bartlett, the well remembered ideal young New Englander, with all of his old time juvenile appeal. His characterization is equally good in its tender and its dominant moments.
Burr Macintosh and Kate Price are beautifully cast as Squire and Mrs. Bartlett. It is the home atmosphere that means so much in Griffith pictures.
Mary Hay makes her screen debut in the role of Kate Brewster, the refreshing little ingenue. She is headed toward Dorothy ‘s port with her eccentric comedy mannerisms. Her relief is timely.
Vivia Ogden, Porter Strong and George Neville occasion the more hilarious amusement of the play in the rural characters, Martha Perkins, Jack Setholand and Reuben Whipple. Josephine Bernard, Mrs. Morgan Belmont and Patricia Fruer are somewhat amateurish as the Tremonts, but their footage is limited and consequently means little.
Florence Short, however, creates a type worthy of mention in her four or five scenes as their eccentric aunt. Edgar Nelson as Hi Holler, and Emily Fitzroy as Maria Poole, complete the cast.
The remarkableness and thrill of the ice jam and break scenes, which forms the climax, has never been rivaled. It is as spectacular a sequence as has been filmed, even by this director.
Other producers might follow Mr. Griffith’s example by including many big brains in their organizations, to the advantage of’ their productions and resultantly their own material success.
Way Down East – shooting at Mamaroneck NY 1920
Shooting a scene from Way Down East, Griffith seated below the camera
D.W. Griffith – Ice floe Scenes (Vermont) Way Down East
DW Griffith filming team – Mamaroneck NY – Way Down East
“Way Down East” – Lillian Gish and D.W. Griffith on set
“Way Down East” – Lillian Gish (cast and crew)
Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess (Way Down East)
Way Down East – filming the “Ice Floe Scene” (Lillian Gish)
“When we said Lillian is cutting “Romola,” we meant it”
Lillian Gish was much surprised the other day to discover that she had gone to France at the request of composer Charpentier (no relation to Georges) to appear in a silent screen version of his celebrated opera, “Louise;” she had gone to Germany to appear in a continental company’s production of “Faust,” as Marguerite; she had signed with Famous Players to take Elsie Ferguson’s place in the title role of the filmization of Molnar’s play, “The Swan;” she had made a new contract to star in a series of pictures for Metro-Goldwyn.
Lillian was surprised because she was the last to hear about these reported activities. None of them is true. As a matter of cold, hard, businesslike fact, Miss Gish is just at present completing the editing and cutting of “Romola,” the picture which she and her sister Dorothy made in Italy, and wondering what she is going to do next. Her managers have not yet decided and meanwhile the Gishes are keeping their well-known eyes open for new stories.
By the way, when we said Lillian is cutting “Romola,” we meant it. Many stars superficially supervise their productions. But we met Lillian the other day coming out of a stuffy little projection room where she had been viewing thousands of feet of film herself, and giving directions as to the actual cutting. Her long career as a Griffith heroine gave her valuable experience along these lines, for D. W. always called his leading lady in to watch the “rushes” and to give him advice as to what bit should stay in and what sequence should be ruthlessly amputated.
In fact, Lillian is one of the few stars in pictures interested in something besides her own close-ups.
Photoplay’s selection of six best pictures of the month
The Shadow Stage
ORPHANS OF THE STORM—D. W. Griffith
THIS production is so colossal in conception and in execution; its great moments move one so much; its thrills are so stirring, it is difficult to pin it to paper. Griffith has come back with a bang. After “Dream Street,” this great historical masterpiece brings again the Griffith of “The Birth of a Nation” and “Intolerance,” but with an added charm, a new softness, a fresh appeal. He tells an old, old story—the story of “The Two Orphans.” He has retitled it and remade it. Against the bloody background of the French Revolution, Griffith has painted a beautiful picture: a tender portrait of devotion and sacrifice. He has recreated history as no other living man has done. And this is his greatest triumph. It is massive, but it is human.
And let us comment on the very curious fact that the French Revolution is perennial. Somehow it takes hold of the human imagination as can no other great social upheaval in human affairs. Compared with events that have followed, the turbulent period of the Reign of Terror is not on a particularly grand scale: e. g., the Napoleonic wars, and our own great Civil conflict, not to mention the recent World war, and the cruel and bloody Russian revolution.
But it fascinates. Griffith was wise in his choice of a theme for this production. It is spectacular, but it has little moments of very personal appeal—tiny, heart-throbbing seconds on the screen during which you hold your breath for fear you will break the charm and the magic picture will vanish.
Orphans of the Storm – Henriette and Chevalier de Vaudrey
Dorothy and Lillian Gish in Orphans of the Storm (United Artists, 1921). Autographed Photo
Lillian Gish and Dorothy Gish Henriette and Louise (Orphans of The Storm)
You are Henrielte and Louise, or you are the Chevalier de Vaudrey and Danton. You are awaiting the embrace of Madame Guillotine; you are a part of that unforgettable page in the book of the world. No history ever written can begin to compare with this photoplay for genuine instruction. Every child in the world should see it. True, it takes liberties with actual dates and events; but the spirit is there. There are, we said, moments of surpassing beauty — greater than anything ever put on the screen or the stage.
One, the love scene of Henriette and the Chevalier: touching, tender, true. Another, the most dramatic of all celluloid climaxes: the almost-meeting of the two orphans. The thrills come when the heroine is rescued from the guillotine — and this is not the best part of the drama. But much may be forgiven a director who can reach out from the screen and put a tear in your eye and a lump in your throat.
As for the acting — it is superb. First honors go to Miss Lillian Gish. Each new Gish portrayal is finer than the one before. The actress works. With a rare beauty and personal charm, she is not content. Her Henriette is sublime.
Her sister, Dorothy, as Louise, has the second-best role, which she performs with exquisite art. Joseph Schildkraut, as the Chevalier, is charming. But Monte Blue, as Danton, the outstanding figure of the Revolution, is the best man in the cast.
Of heroic mold, he plays magnificently and proves himself one of our few fine actors. Honorable mention to Lucille La Verne, Frank Puglia, Sheldon Lewis, Morgan Wallace, Frank Losee, and the gentleman who played Robespierre so splendidly. The musical score is appropriate.
Latest gossip of comings and goings of screen personalities glimpsed in Manhattan and the rejuvenated Eastern Studios
Lillian Gish Marks Time.
Lillian Gish continues to keep her diminutive person in the playgrounds of Europe, but she has her eye and her mind on her work. We learn that she is deep in the throes of working on a scenario, written for her by Hugo von Hoffmanstal and Max Reinhardt. Upon Joseph Schenck’s recent arrival in Europe, Professor Reinhardt, who will direct Miss Gish’s next production, gave a dinner party for his future star, at Schloss Leopoldskron, whereafter the wizard of Leopoldskron took occasion to settle much of the speculation as to the future plans of himself and Miss Gish.
“I hope to be able to start on the screening of Miss Gish’s picture in Hollywood, in the early part of December,” said the Herr Direktor. “While both Miss Gish and myself would like to make the picture, which is as yet unnamed, on this side of the Atlantic, technical considerations make American production preferable.
“I am going to produce this one American film, to see whether I am competent to remain in the motion picture field. If the experiment is reasonably successful, I shall embark upon production in Germany, with the help, I hope, of my American friends and collaborators.
Mr. Schenck and I are in complete accord as to the necessity for international cooperation in making pictures which should have an international appeal. Both of us want to place the whole on an artistic basis.
“In my opinion, some system of permitting players to talk on the screen, in a manner that will prove satisfactory throughout the world, will be perfected before long. What it will be, and how similar to existing devices, I cannot say at present, but vocal pictures are here to stay.
”I want to emphasize that my present, and possibly my future, film plans do not in any sense mean I shall neglect European theaters in general, and the Salzburg festival in particular.”
There are kilts and bagpipes, glens, and castles, and a great deal of bloodshed in “Annie Laurie,” but it isn’t really Scottish, for all that. Nor is it more than mildly interesting, and it’s not at all sympathetic. Too bad, because Lillian Gish is lovely to look at in the quaint, voluminous costumes of the period, and her mood is lighter and less woeful than in most of her pictures. The film just doesn’t arouse any emotion.
The story is based on the ancient feud between the MacDonalds and the Campbells, and culminates in the Glencoe massacre, in which Annie Laurie, of course, shines forth as the heroine. Perilously she climbs a cliff to light the beacon which shall warn the clan of impending attack. Honestly, I can’t remember which clan it was—the MacDonalds or the Campbells—because the feud was so long drawn out, and Lillian and some of the other characters seemed to be on civil terms with both factions.
Norman Kerry is Ian MacDonald. “A Campbell for a MacDonald !” he shouts, as he poses on a high wall, about to hurl the body of Creighton Hale into space. That is the spirit of his role, and Mr. Kerry blusters through it, an actor who realizes that here is his opportunity to run wild and go over big with the girls. He also displays his chest in extreme decollete, and is not averse to doffing every stitch above the waist. This may all be typical of a he-man Scotsman, but it looked like pure Culver City to me. So was the picture.
Motion Picture Herald – January 2nd 1947 – Library of Congress
Packard Campus – Audio Visual Conservation
Duel in the Sun – 1947
Selznick — Western with Sex Appeal
David O. Selznick’s “Duel in the Sun” comes at long last to market an attraction quite as remarkable in most respects as trade and public have been conditioned by the producer’s past works and present publicity to expect it to be. It is a great deal more so in one important respect which has received scant reference heretofore, but figures to incur plenty hereafter.
It is, as anticipated, a very big picture, star- studded as an exploitation man’s dream and scenically beautiful as a sunset over the Grand Canyon ; and it is also, not so anticipatedly, very, very hot stuff. For any of these reasons and most reliably the latter, by recent precedent the production is sure to set in motion a wave of written and spoken comment of the kind and dimension that has always rolled up lush grosses and doubtless always will. Producer Selznick is not the first to undertake a mating of Western melodrama with the ‘sex theme — Howard Hughes pioneered that trail with “The Outlaw”— but he is the first to do it on the $6,000,000 cost level in Technicolor, with such box office personalities as Jennifer Jones, Gregory Peck, Joseph Gotten, Lionel Barrymore, Walter Huston, Herbert Marshall, Harry Carey and Lillian Gish distinguishing a cast that contains other exploitable names among its hundreds.
Whether his crossing of strains so long dealt with separately by producers, on grounds of incompatibility, is to prove as much more assimilable as it is more expensive, is a question to be answered by the ticket buyers who unquestionably will be legion in either case.
The screenplay by the producer, from a novel by Niven Busch, adapted by Oliver H, P. Garrett, is a sizzler in the full meaning of the term. It opens floridly with Tilly Losch as an Indian entertainer doing a torrid dance in a Texas presidio (1880) and proceeding thence with an amorous gambler to a private chamber, where he and she are shot to death by her white husband, another gambler, who decides this is not a proper motherly example to set before their adolescent daughter. But this is just a preliminary and relatively orthodox warmup for the emotional excesses in which the daughter is to engage after she arrives at the million-acre ranch whose sedate and unhappy mistress is an old friend and former flame of her father, who counsels his child on the merits of virtue as they take him out to hang him for the double killing.
The ranch is owned by Senator McCanles, played by Barrymore, an embittered and ruthless cattle baron and senator, resolutely opposed to progress as represented by an oncoming railroad. He has two sons, an upright young Iawyer whom he despises, played by Cotten, and a downright blackguard, whom he worships, played by Peck. Cotten is the first to meet the half-breed girl, portrayed by Miss Jones with consummate abandon, and he falls in love with her, but refrains from telling her so immediately on the theory that she rates a space of time in which to adjust himself to the social change. Unimpeded by such considerations, Lewt McCanles, played by Peck, goes out forthwith in lustful quest of her physical favors and takes them by storm in the most forthright display of virility illicitly triumphant an American camera has looked upon in years. The upright Cotten intrudes a little later, too late to prevent, but in time to know what’s gone on, and the girl exhibits momentary remorse when he tells her he would have asked her to marry him if this hadn’t happened. But she switches back to the predatory Lewt immediately thereafter and shares several more rapturously savage passages with him before she gets around to the decision — after he’s shot down his unarmed brother and killed a man who wants to marry her — that she’s got to kill the guy. This decision, arrived at for a variety of reasons possibly including his practice of kicking her in the face after amours, leads to the duel in the sun, from which the picture takes its title. In this final sequence, where the savage lovers exchange bullets across a terrain of boulders as they drag themselves toward each other for a final bloody caress in which both die, the picture attains its peak of dramatic impact.
There are other story threads of moment, principal among them that concerning the cattle baron’s fight with the railroad in which thousands of players, representing armed ranchers, railroad construction crews, and the U. S. Cavalry, which arrives in time to intervene between them, figure in a vastly proportioned sequence which closes peacefully with the lens focussed upon the Stars and Stripes. But this story thread in common with a tardily introduced domestic rift in the far past of the cattle baron and his wife is sharply subordinated to the relationship between the half-breed girl and the outlaw son, depicted on all occasions as strictly carnal and underscored to the remarkable extent of incorporating a sequence of stableyard violence involving a stallion and a mare which hasn’t been paralleled since “Ecstasy.”
King Vidor directed the picture with deliberation, daring and with manifest consideration of the cinematographic niceties, as when remembering to make the nude-bathing scene and the interludes of lust pictorially beautiful as well as emotionally exotic. The picture is strictly for adults on all counts.
Previewed at the studio. Reviewer’s Rating : Sensational. — William R. Weaver.
Released at Roadshow. Running time, 135 min. PCA
No. 11649. Adult audience classification.
Pearl Chavez Jennifer Jones
Jesse McCanles Joseph Gotten
Lewt McCanles Gregory Peck
Senator McCanles .. Lionel Barrymore
Mrs. Laura Belle McCanles Lillian Gish
The Sinkiller Walter Huston
Scott Chavez Herbert Marshall
Sam Pierce Charles Bickford
Cast: Joan Tetzel, Harry Carey, Otto Kruger, Sidney Blackmer, Tilly Losch, Scott McKay, Butterfly McQueen. Francis McDonald, Victor Kilian, Griff Barnett, Frank Cordell, Dan White, Steve Dunhill, Lane Chandler, Lloyd Shaw, Thomas Dillon, Robert McKenzie, Charles Dingle
The Battle of Elderbush Gulch— (Two Reels)—Biograph—Re-issue—July 30.—
With Mae Marsh, Lillian Gish and Robert Harron in an all star cast.
Two young girls on their way to visit their uncle in the unsettled west, fall in with a young married couple bound for the same destination. They have brought with them two dogs and as they are not allowed to keep them in the house, they are placed outside, where they escape into an Indian camp. The older girl goes out to look for the dogs and encounters the Indians. Her uncle comes on the scene and thinking her attacked, fires and kills the chief’s son. This happening fans into flame the smoldering spark of Indian hatred. A battle ensues, but finally the troops arrive and disperse the Indians.
The Battle at Elderbrush Gush Lillian Gish 1913 (siege)
Mae Marsh – Sally
Leslie Loveridge – The Waif
Alfred Paget – Waifs’ uncle
Robert Harron – The father
Lillian Gish – Mellisa Harlow
Charles Hill Mailes – Ranch owner
William A. Carroll – The Mexican
Frank Opperman – Indian Chief
Henry B. Walthall – Indian Chief’s son
Joseph McDermott – Waifs’ guardian
Jennie Lee – Waifs’ guardian
Kate Bruce – Settler
Charles Gorman – Among the Indians
Elmo Lincoln – Cavalryman
W. Chrystie Miller – Settler
W. C. Robinson – Among the Indians
Release Date: December 1913 (USA)
Also Known As: A Batalha de Elderbusch Gulch
Filming Locations: Biograph/Griffith Movie Ranch, San Fernando, California, USA
Photoplay Magazine Volume XXVI, Number Two – July 1924
“Birth of a Nation” Breaks All Records
Seven years before the producer of “The Birth of a Nation,” then just Larry Griffith, an actor out of a job, found a chance to play a role in a little one-reel Edison drama for five dollars a day. Seven years since he sold his first script to Biograph for fifteen dollars.
“The Birth of a Nation” broke all manner of theater records in various world capitals and became, as it remains today, the world’s: greatest motion picture, if greatness is to be measured by fame. It has ever since continued to be an important box office success. Early in 1924 “The Birth of a Nation” played in the great Auditorium Theater in Chicago, surpassing any previous picture audience record for that house.
No other dramatic screen product has lived so long, with the single and interesting exception of the little one-reel Sennett Keystone comedies featuring Charles Chaplin.
Lillian Gish – Birth of a Nation
Here, perhaps, is a test of screen art. “The Birth of a Nation” was Griffith vindication for his flourishing departure from Biograph. Because of the halo that “The Birth of a Nation” has conferred upon them, some of the now famous names from the cast must be recalled: Henry Walthall, Mae Marsh, Elmer Clifton, Robert Harron, Lillian Gish, Joseph Henabery, Sam de Grasse, Donald Crisp and Jennie Lee.
Lillian Gish Promotional Hartsook – The Clansman (The Birth of a Nation)
The Birth of a Nation (David W. Griffith Corp., 1915). Herald2
Lillian Gish Salem Daily Capital Journal article (Of The Birth of A Nation) – NOT Lillian Gish in the photograph
Griffith’s attainment in “The Birth of a Nation” must be credited with a large influence in extending an acceptance and appreciation of the screen art into new, higher levels. Here was a picture that could not be ignored by any class. It also exerted a large, even if indirect, influence on the course of motion picture finance. Hundreds of thousands and million were now to become easy figures in the manipulation of the thought of the industry. “The Birth of a Nation” is said to have cost over a quarter of a million. It would have been cheap at a million. The public has paid 815,000,000, according to the estimate of J. P. McCarthy, who has put the picture on the screens of the world.
In this single picture, Griffith, above all others, forced an indifferent world to learn that the motion picture was great. In the next chapter we shall tell some untold tales of screen destiny, rich with personal drama and adventure, stories of Charles Chaplin, Pancho Villa. Jack Johnson and Jess Willard. a curious bypath story of the world war and Broadway, and the amazing truth of how one idea and one little girl, Mary Pickford, rocked the whole vast institution of the screen and set all of its invested millions a-tremble.