Lillian Gish Ready to start on a Talkie – By Rosalind Shaffer (Chicago Tribune Press Service) 1929

Conrad Nagel, Lillian Gish, Rod La Rocque, Direktor Paul L. Stein ermahnt, The Swan
Conrad Nagel, Lillian Gish, Rod La Rocque, Direktor Paul L. Stein ermahnt, The Swan

Chicago Tribune – October, Sunday 13, 1929 – Part 7, Page 58

Lillian Gish Ready to start on a Talkie

Chooses “The Swan” as Her First Venture

By Rosalind Shaffer (Chicago Tribune Press Service)

Hollywood Cal. – [Special Correspondence] – Lillian Gish is about to begin rehearsals on her first talking picture “The Swan,” from the play by Ferenc Molnar. Looking extremely well after her prolonged vacation occasioned by the giving up plans to make “The Miracle Woman,” by Reinhardt, some months ago, Miss Gish is most interested with the idea of doing a talkie.

“I really have done about everything I could for silent pictures,” she said. “I have made all the faces I know; I even went to insane asylums to try to get a few new ones. It’s rather nice to be going to make a new sort of thing.”

VICTOR MAUREL as Don Giovanni in 'Don Giovanni' by Mozart
VICTOR MAUREL as Don Giovanni in ‘Don Giovanni’ by Mozart

Voice Work Under Maurel

A couple of years ago, Lillian Gish had been thinking of doing stage work and had had some excellent voice training under the tutelage of Victor Maurel, now dead, who lived in New York at the time Miss Gish knew him.

Maurel was an opera singer, so important in his day that the prologue for “Pagliacci,” by Leoncavallo, was written especially for him to sing to induce him to play the role in its original presentation. He had argued that the part was too light in tone and suggested the prologue to give it weight.

Maurel was a well known artist in his later years and it was as such that Miss Gish went to him to get lessons in his hobby. He only asked as pay that she pose for him. Then he became interested in her dramatic work and daily he took scenes from the then current “Way Down East” of Miss Gish and tried to gain the same emotional effect in an empty room with her voice that she had gotten on the screen with her acting.

Thus, while Miss Gish has never had a voice test, she feels not unprepared for her talking work  in “The Swan.” The role is a radical departure from the fluttery parts that first brought her to popularity with D.W. Griffith as her director.

While Miss Gish keeps her long hair, she has been as radical as Mary Pickford in changing her parts for films, for in “The Swan” she plays a modern lightly sophisticated role. In the cast will be Conrad Nagel, Rod LaRocque and Marie Dressler.

The Swan aka “One Romantic Night” – Photo Gallery

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Book World to Take Look at ‘Lillian Gish’ (Chicago Tribune – 1969)

Chicago Tribune – Saturday 17, May, 1969 – Page 111

Book World to Take Look at ‘Lillian Gish’

“Lillian Gish is an artist for art’s sake, and she has preserved for us a precious chunk of one of her own medium’s most magnificent moments in time,” says Liz Smith in her Sunday Book review of “Lillian Gish – The Movies, Mr. Griffith and Me.”

Miss Gish’s book is less a story about herself than about a motion picture innovator, David Wark Griffith, whom she presents to the reader “warts and all.”

The Movies Mr.Griffith and Me
The Movies Mr.Griffith and Me

A lady With Class - Chicago Tribune 1

A lady With Class - Chicago Tribune 2

Lillian Gish- The Movies, Mr. Griffith, and Me

 

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Salaam (The Scarlet Letter) – By Norbert Lusk (Picture Play Magazine – Nov. 1926)

Picture Play Magazine – November 1926 Vol. XXV No. 3

The Screen in Review

By Norbert Lusk

The Scarlet Letter Lillian Gish and Lars Hanson
The Scarlet Letter – Lillian Gish and Lars Hanson

Salaam (The Scarlet Letter)

Lillian Gish’s performance in “The Scarlet Letter” recaptures all the praise ever bestowed on her, and by the same token should erase all memory of the shortcomings charged against her. For her Hester Prynne is shimmering perfection, and is completely her own. The scenario of “The Scarlet Letter” is not wholly, however, the story of Hawthorne’s novel, though the liberties taken with it could scarcely offend the most captious. As you see this beautiful picture on the screen it occurs to you that there was no need to have followed the letter of the book at all. What has come from it is fine and true.

The spirit of Puritan days has been preserved with reverence and, at times, humor, while Frances Marion’s story is a model of screen technique and skillful compromise with the censors. Behind the story of the ill-starred lovers is a sharply etched study of the habits, customs, and psychology of our forefathers, yet it is never merely a presentation of detail but takes its proper place in unfolding the story of the seamstress who loved the Reverend Dimmesdale and who sacrificed herself that the towns people might never lose their ideal of his goodness. Lars Hanson, the Swedish actor who makes his first American appearance as Dimmesdale, might easily have stolen the picture from an actress of lesser gifts. His is a magnificent performance—poise, repression, and spirituality being blended into a character as dominating as it is appealing. The slow, gathering intentness of Hanson’s gaze is one of his most potent means of expressing thought and emotion. It is amazing on the screen.

But for that matter the entire cast with a single exception is of the highest order. Henry B. Walthall as Roger Prynne, Hester’s sinister husband, plays with repressed power, and Karl Dane and William H. Tooker offer lifelike characterizations.

Henry B Walthall - The Scarlet Letter
Henry B Walthall – The Scarlet Letter

The one exception to me was Joyce Coad as Pearl, Hester’s daughter. Here was a hearty, black-eyed child with a length of limb that nearly brought her up to Miss Gish’s shoulder, wholly unlike the frail flower my imagination created as the offspring of Hester and Dimmesdale. When Miss Gish carried her, the full force of a sacrifice to art came to me, and I hoped she wouldn’t break under the muscular strain.

The Scarlet Letter Lillian Gish
Lillian’s Protegee The story of “The Scarlet Letter” gave Lillian Gish, as Hester Prynne, many scenes with little Joyce Coad, who plays Pearl. And Miss Gish believes that Joyce, who is the winner of a California baby contest, will win an esteemed place for herself on the screen. Photo Motion Picture Magazine (Aug 1926-Jan 1927)

Victor Seastrom’s direction is that of a master, and the Scandinavian’s sympathy with the traditions of our rock-bound New England is strongly manifested in every scene.

Scarlet Letter Ad - Picture-Play Magazine (Sep 1926-Feb 1927)
Scarlet Letter Ad – Picture-Play Magazine (Sep 1926-Feb 1927)

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“The White Sister”—Inspiration – Pros and Cons

“The White Sister”—Inspiration

Lillian Gish, away from the guiding hand of Griffith, proves to be as moving as ever. In an emotional race with Vesuvius in eruption she captures all the honors. In her support she has a tragic but uplifting story, real Italian scenery, and a charming new leading man named Ronald Colman.

Excerpts from – The White Sister – Picture-Play Magazine (Sep 1923-Feb 1924)

Signed Promotional Photo - Lillian Gish and Ronald Colman - The White Sister
Signed Promotional Photo – Lillian Gish and Ronald Colman – The White Sister

Some Souvenir Postal Cards.

Agnes Smith (Known MGM – professional hired – hater)

Lillian Gish went to Italy to make “The White Sister,” and the result is some beautiful scenes showing native life and some shots of that great dramatic star, Mount Vesuvius. Miss Gish’s error was, not in going to Italy, but in taking a scenario of F. Marion Crawford’s novel with her. Of all the aggravating and annoying plots in the world, “The White Sister” is the worst, except maybe a few by Hall Caine. Mr. Crawford lived in an age when it was popular to pump up artificial sentiment by playing strongly on religious young ladies and by making a lot of fuss about the difference between worldly and spiritual love. And then he turned on the soft music of Italian scenery to ease the story over on the public.

Why any one in this period of the world’s history wants to film a religious story is more than I can figure out. Unless you handle it with care, the Catholics are apt to be offended while, on the other hand, a great many non-Catholics can get none too excited over the girl who takes the veil. I am not trying to imply that “The White Sister” will stir up feeling, I am only saying that there are certain rational aspects of the public mind that demand consideration from producers. Most fans are apt to look at “The White Sister” merely as florid and romantic melodrama. The postal card views of Italy have a certain charm and the unreal story works itself up into a good thrill climax. Dear old Vesuvius jumps into action and obligingly kills off some of the characters. However, the hero, in the midst of the eruption, for some strange reason goes and gets drowned. A dambursts and floods the city. It seemed an unnecessary trick to bring in the flood and a nasty crack at the destructive talents of Vesuvius besides. The incident was as foolish as though I should get mixed up in an earthquake and die of hay fever.

Miss Gish gives Vesuvius and the flood a winning race for the honors. The girl has a habit of breaking my heart. Once she gets that heart-broken, woebegone look on her face, I am simply overcome by emotion. Miss Gish has a perfect technique, combined with the face of an angel. She deserves more reliable material than “The White Sister.” Her new leading man, Ronald Colman, breaks all records by playing an Italian role without imitating Valentino. He gives a splendid, sincere and truly convincing performance, even though he is called upon to do all sorts of ridiculous things. A recruit from the stage, he is an addition to the screen. And he has such a way with him in love scenes that I suppose he’ll have to engage a secretary to answer his fan mail.

The White Sister - Picture-Play Magazine (Sep 1923)
The White Sister – Picture-Play Magazine (Sep 1923)

THE production of “The White Sister” on which Lillian Gish worked for seven months in and near Rome, will not be released until fall. So, for consolation, Picture-Play offers in the meantime, this exquisite photograph of her in the role.

The White Sister 2 - Picture-Play Magazine (Sep 1923-Feb 1924)
The White Sister 2 – Picture-Play Magazine (Sep 1923-Feb 1924)

This glimpse of one of the early scenes in “The White Sister,” Lillian Gish’s first picture for the Inspiration company, holds rare promise of beauty, for it seems to haye caught in its very backgrounds her ephemeral charm.

The White Sister 3 - Picture-Play Magazine (Sep 1923-Feb 1924)
The White Sister 3 – Picture-Play Magazine (Sep 1923-Feb 1924)

Only in Italy could be found such exquisite and time-worn walls as those which provide settings for some of the scenes in ”The White Sister.” Of all her portraits, the one above is Lillian Gish’s favorite. In this famous old Italian garden which has been visited hy scores of Americans traveling abroad, “The White Sister” meditates upon the spiritual life and seeks to crowd out of her consciousness the tragedy that sent her to seek the solace of the convent.

The White Sister 4 - Picture-Play Magazine (Sep 1923-Feb 1924)
The White Sister 4 – Picture-Play Magazine (Sep 1923-Feb 1924)

Ever since the first announcement almost a year ago that Lillian Gish was going to play this widely known heroine of F. Marion Crawford’s there has been keen interest in this production. For such quiet power and spiritual beauty as hers suits the character of the little romantic girl who enters a convent when her sweetheart disappears. In ‘ the scene shown above, the three nuns are played by three old and famous character actresses of the Italian stage.

The White Sister
The White Sister

Concerning “The White Sister.”

The most interesting feature of your magazine to me is the review department by Agnes Smith. I always read the reviews first and usually find that I not only agree with Miss Smith, but wish that I might have thought of expressing my judgment in her delightful way. Naturally, I was eager to see her review of “The White Sister,” for Lillian Gish, it seems to me, is by far the most important person on the screen. Miss Smith’s flippant and disparaging remarks were a distinct shock. I cannot understand her point of view when she says “Most fans are apt to look on ‘The White Sister’ merely as florid and romantic melodrama.”

I do not know on what Miss Smith bases her opinion on what the fans are going to think. I only know that both times I saw the picture the strangers all about me were sincerely and deeply moved. Two women, sitting near me, who looked as though they could ill afford the price of the tickets, murmured several times during the course of the picture that they had never seen anything so exquisitely beautiful.’ The people were so real that they forgot it was a plot and not life that they were watching. Now, if you will permit me the space, I would like to comment on a few points that Miss Smith raised. She says, “Mr. Crawford lived in an age when it was popular to pump up artificial sentiment by playing strongly on religious young ladies.”

Mr. Crawford may have shown poor taste and been artificial sometimes in his writings, but I am not so sure that the sentiment he aroused was artificial. I think that it was sincere just as the sentiment aroused by George Cohan’s flag-waving and other bits of hokum is sincere. “The difference between worldly and spiritual love” will, I believe, continue to be one of the most engrossing themes in all literature in spite of Miss Smith’s disapproval.’

“Why any one in this period of the world’s history wants to film a religious story is more than I can figure out,” she continues. When the world ceases to be interested in faith, it has ceased to be interested in the most vital and important factor in human life. The faith of “The White Sister” may not be mifaith ; in fact, I was enraged by her insistence that her vows to her church were more binding than her promise to the man she loved. But, any sincere and convincing presentation of another person’s beliefs commands my respect, at least. It was reassuring to find that even though she was thoroughly out of sympathy with the story, Miss Smith was deeply moved by the work of the star and Ronald Colman, the gifted and magnetic young leading man. I do wish, though, that her review, which is sure to influence many people, had not shown such a strong personal bias. – Joice Marie Sidman – Ansonia Hotel, New York City.

The White Sister
The White Sister

 

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Dick Barthelmess was married … for real, not just in Way Down East (Picture Play Magazine 1920)

"Way Down East" - Lillian Gish
“Way Down East” – Lillian Gish and the eccentric aunt

Picture Play Magazine Volume XIII September 1920 No.1

Over the Teacups

Fanny the Fan retails gossip on the way to a bullfight, and forgets about tea.

By The Bystander

FANNY and I were off for Tia Juana—with Fanny driving. Now, that means more than it looks as if it did. In the first place, Fanny’s the sort of driver who lets not her right hand know what her left hand doeth ; she shifts gears in the most nonchalant fashion, and then says in sweet surprise, “Oh, that is reverse, isn’t it ? I always forget and think it’s high.” That’s so consoling when you find yourself gently settling back into a ditch ! She maintains, as far as possible, the speed Wallie Reid does in his racing pictures when he’s trying to outdistance the Limited and win the girl. And she talks all the time. That’s one reason why she wanted me to desert the rest of the crowd and drive from Coronado Beach down to Tia Juana with her—so that we could gossip—on the way to a bullfight, too! As for Tia Juana—if you’ve ever been a tourist in San Diego, California, you know it well. It’s just nicely over the Mexican border, and it’s not what you expect at all. Oh, yes, they have bullfights and gambling of all sorts there, and have never even heard of prohibition, apparently—but somehow you expect it to be terribly picturesque and wicked, and your main impression, if you’re at all like me, is one of souvenirs made in Toluka, Kansas. However, all the screen notables flock there, and so does everybody else.

"Way Down East" - Lillian Gish
“Way Down East” – Richard Barthelmess and Lillian Gish

“Well,” began Fanny, as we sped along over the road from Coronado, where we’d been imbibing cool drinks, and looking at the ocean, what have you got to say for yourself? Last time I saw you, at that beach party, you jumped on me for saying Dick Barthelmess was engaged. And then somebody shouted at us to come down to the fire and showed us a wire announcing that Dick was married.”

Portrait of Mary Hay and Richard Barthelmess by Edward Steichen
Portrait of Mary Hay and Richard Barthelmess by Edward Steichen

“I know—I apologize,” was my humble reply. “And by way of making up for it I’ll tell you all about the wedding—a friend of mine in the East saw Lillian Gish just afterward, and she said Lillian told her that it was very impressive; Mr. Griffith told Lillian—he was the only motion-picture person there except the principals. He aid little Mary Hay looked very lovely in her wedding gown, and came down the aisle on her father’s arm – he’s Colonel Caldwell, you know, and was in uniform – and that it was a beautiful ceremony. It was performed at the Church of the Heavenly Rest, in New York, and just a few people were there. Dick had some of his college chums for best man and ushers, and he and his bride couldn’t go away for a honeymoon, because they had to go right on with Way Down East.’ But this friend of mine saw them out at the Griffith studio, and she said they were a perfectly ideal bride and groom, and that the way Dick looked at Mary would make a fortune for him if he could do it on the screen.”

"Way Down East" - Lillian Gish
“Way Down East” – Lillian Gish

“Well, I expected it right along,” declared Fanny, in her most superior manner. “I was in New York when Mr. Griffith took his company there for the opening of ‘Broken Blossoms,’ and when I asked Dick if he was glad to get back to New York he said most enthusiastically that he was—’glad to get back and see all the fellows and my girl’—as he put it. And I asked if he was engaged, and he said he was, but that it was a secret and please not to say anything about it. And he was worried to death for fear Mr. Griffith wouldn’t let him go back and play in comedies opposite Dorothy Gish, because people had grown accustomed to seeing him with her, and if another chap got the job the public might forget all about him. Isn’t that funny, when you think of all he’s done since then ?” I agreed that it was.

Photoplay (Sep 1920) Mrs Belmont Way Down East
Photoplay (Sep 1920) Mrs. Belmont in Way Down East

” ‘Way Down East’ is going to be interesting for more reasons than just because of its cast,” declared Fanny. “I mean besides the people like Lillian Gish and Dick Barthelmess and Creighton Hale and the rest of the stars. Mrs. August Belmont’s in it, you know—one of New York’s big society leaders—one of the first ten of the four hundred, I suppose you could call her. Her father’s in it, too, and Evelyn Walsh, an heiress from Colorado. I think that’s awfully thrilling.”

Over the Teacups (Way Down East) Picture-Play Magazine (Sep 1920)
Over the Teacups (Way Down East) Picture-Play Magazine (Sep 1920)

way down east - lobby card 3

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Lillian Gish in a Hurricane (Pictorial) 1927 (Picture-Play August 1927)

Picture-Play August 1927 Volume XXVI No.6

Hollywood High Lights

The latest news of what the film folk are doing out there in the movie town.

By Edwin and Elza Schallert

Lillian Gish in a Hurricane.

“The Wind,” Lillian Gish’s next picture, promises to be unusually interesting. The story deals with the terrible Texas gales, such as have recently wrought such disaster. Miss Gish has never made a film of quite the same character. Many of the scenes have been filmed on location in the Mohave Desert, and she underwent the hardship of acting in driving sandstorms induced by huge wind machines that succeeded in stirring up the sand in a most amazingly realistic way. The technical crew on the production could wear goggles while working, but Miss Gish, of course, had to go through her part, without glasses, in the very midst of the artificial hurricane. There are several big roles in the film. Lars Hanson has the male lead, and Montagu Love is the heavy.

 

The Wind – Photo Gallery

The Wind - Poster
The Wind – Poster
The Wind - Poster
The Wind – Poster
The Wind - Poster Lillian and Lars
The Wind – Poster – Lillian and Lars Hanson

 

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Dorothy and Lillian Gish 1951 – Look Magazine (Pictorial)

Museum of The City Of New York – Collection

Dorothy and Lillian Gish in their apartment in New York, photographed in 1951

John Vachon – Look Magazine – New York

 

Dorothy and Lillian Gish in NY apartment 1951 - John Vachon - Look Magazine1
Dorothy and Lillian Gish in NY apartment 1951 – John Vachon – Look Magazine
Dorothy and Lillian Gish in NY apartment 1951 - John Vachon - Look Magazine 6
Dorothy and Lillian Gish in NY apartment 1951 – John Vachon – Look Magazine
Dorothy Gish in Lillian's apartment NY 1951 - John Vachon - Look Magazine
Dorothy Gish in Lillian’s apartment NY 1951 – John Vachon – Look Magazine
Dorothy and Lillian Gish in NY apartment 1951 - John Vachon - Look Magazine 2
Dorothy and Lillian Gish in NY apartment 1951 – John Vachon – Look Magazine
Dorothy and Lillian Gish in NY apartment 1951 - John Vachon - Look Magazine 4
Dorothy and Lillian Gish in NY apartment 1951 – John Vachon – Look Magazine

 

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Broken Blossoms – By Peter Milne (Picture Play Magazine – 1919)

Picture Play Magazine – August 1919 Vol. X No. 6

The Screen in Review

Criticism and comment on recent releases, by one of New York’s leading authorities on matters pertaining to the screen.

 

print of a scene from D.W. Griffith's Broken Blossoms (1919) with Lillian Gish as Lucy Burrows and Richard Barthelmess as the Chinaman Cheng Huan
print of a scene from D.W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms (1919) with Lillian Gish as Lucy Burrows and Richard Barthelmess as the Chinaman Cheng Huan

Broken Blossoms

By Peter Milne

“Broken Blossoms” marks a real advancement in the motion-picture art. Mr. Griffith has instituted something new in it at every angle from which a production usually is viewed. He brings a new style of photography which creates a more artistic effect than plain flat black-and-white work. He brings a new sort of drama, a new sort of production. “Broken Blossoms” is the simple tale of the lives of three people in London’s Chinatown.

Lucy Burrows on the Wharf (Broken Blossoms)
Lucy Burrows on the Wharf (Broken Blossoms)

The girl, daughter of a brutal prize fighter, who beats her mercilessly whenever he is drunk —which is often—is protected by a Chinaman who has long loved her from afar. After one particularly severe beating she receives from her father the Chinaman finds her and takes her to his room, where he bathes the poor bruised body and dresses her in the finest silks. It is the only happiness that has ever come into her life, but its coming is the heralding of her death, for her father suddenly discovers that he has “parental” rights, and, his rage unbounded, he seeks her out and spoils her little moment of satisfaction.

Lillian Gish and Donald Crisp in Broken Blossoms
Lillian Gish and Donald Crisp in Broken Blossoms

Tragic as the entire picture is, it appeals to all our finer emotions, and, with the perfectly splendid production that Griffith has given it, it deserves to rank with the finest achievements of the screen. The scenes of London’s Chinatown are marvelous in their realism. Lillian Gish fairly lives the part of the girl, and expresses the tragedy of the empty life with a wonderful characterization. Richard Barthelmess, as the Chinaman, invests the part with a touch of the mystic, of the romantic, that establishes him as a hero far better than wavy hair and good clothes ever did a matinee idol. Donald Crisp returns to the screen from directing to play the fighter, and brings out the coarse brutality of the father to a degree.

Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess - Broken Blossoms
Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess – Broken Blossoms

Photo Gallery:

Broken Blossoms – The Movie

 

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