“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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Santa Cruz Evening News, Volume 41, Number 1, 1 November 1927
Lillian Gish Stars at New Santa Cruz
Annie Laurie beloved in song and romance through the centuries whose name is one to call up visions of the romantic Highlands and the delicate sentiment of Robert Burns and the ancient bards – Annie Laurie has come to life again. She held big audiences enthralled with her charm, and the charm of the romantic land of her birth; the mighty romance of Scotland, last night at the New Santa Cruz theatre, when “Annie Laurie,” Lillian Gish’s new Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer vehicle, was shown. Lillian Gish literally is Annie Laurie. Those who imagined her as a myth or legend will be amazed at the actual woman for Miss Gish is a faithful portrayer of the real Annie Laurie, who lived centuries ago whose love and whose heroism turned the tide of Scottish history in a real life drama more powerful than any imagined by a scenarist; and whose romance has come down to the world in the song of the ancient bard. Tonight will see the final showings of the greatest starring vehicle of Miss Gish’s brilliant career.
Hollywood was a dirt town when Lillian first saw it
As long as I can remember, the scent of orange blossoms has brought back to me my first day in Hollywood. It was a bright February day and I thought that we had actually come to a garden of Eden, for only a few days before we had left behind us the bitter winter blizzards of New York.
Hollywood was a sparsely settled village then. I remember a land agent tried to sell us a remote tract of ground for $300. We decided in favor of some pretty stock certificates, gold-trimmed and completely phony. Today that ground is the Sunset Strip, and parts of it would bring $300 a foot. But then it was wasteland. Hollywood didn’t even have a movie theater when we came. It had the Hollywood Hotel, a few churches and houses.
And D. W. Griffith. There I’ve said it all. Because Griffith was Hollywood. Through every memory I have comes his voice. He was the movie industry. It was conceived in his brain, developed there, and born to learn by trial and error. Griffith gave it all the devices that are still used. The fade-out and fade- in. The moving camera. And so many more. He wrote all his early stories as he went along, made them up or took them from the classics. He set scenes and called out plot as we rehearsed. He borrowed from Browning, Poe, and the Bible. He took much from Dickens. Sometimes he gave credit, but more often, not. Pippa Passes retained its own name. He switched the scene of David Copperfield to New England and called it True-heart Susie.
The greatest money-making picture in movie history was the Birth of a Nation. It cost $90,000 to make and brought in about $20,000,000. I was only a small part of it. I got the part Blanche Sweet was supposed to have because I had long blond hair that reached to my hips.
Back in those days, an “old hag” of eighteen was passe. Youth was an absolute necessity.
Santa Cruz Sentinel, Volume 119, Number 239, 10 October 1975
‘Intolerance’ Film Slated At UCSC
D.W. Griffith’s 1916 film “Intolerance”, the silent picture that became a benchmark in epic films, will be screened at the UCSC classroom building Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. The showing will celebrate Griffith’s 100th birthday and will be accompanied by veteran theater organist Chauncey Haines.’ The three-hour film intertwines four separate stories of suffering and injustice, and it is famous for a lavish Babylonian set. Featured players include Lillian Gish. The print being shown at UCSC is in perfect condition, according to programmer David Craig. Tickets at $2 will be available at the UCSC ticket office, the Santa Cruz. Box Office or at the door.
Santa Cruz Sentinel, Volume 128, Number 53, 2 March 1984
Silent film star receives top award
BEVERLY HILLS (AP) – “She was there at the birth of an art form,” Douglas Fairbanks Jr. said as the film world saluted Lillian Gish, last great star of the silent film era. Miss Gish, 90, was presented Thursday night with the Life Achievement Award of the American Film Institute, the second woman recipient in the 12 years of the honor. Bette Davis won the award in 1977. It was an evening for women achievers in the movie world, and Miss Gish presided at the table of honor in the Beverly Hilton ballroom with latter-day stars Sally Field, Jessica Lange, Jeanne Moreau, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Lily Tomlin and Cicely Tyson. “She is the symbol of eternal youth of America,” said Miss Moreau, who has filmed a documentary of Miss Gish’s life. “She had an air of serenity that made everybody calm,” said Robert Mitchum, who starred with Miss Gish in the 1955 film “The Night of the Hunter.” The silent film star was also saluted by co-workers and friends Richard Widmark. who appeared with her in “The Cobweb,” actress Colleen Moore, a friend since 1918; Eva Marie Saint, who appeared with Miss Gish in the TV drama and Broadway play, “A Trip To Bountiful;” Jennifer Jones of “Duel in the Sun” and “A Portrait of Jenny; ” and Richard Thomas, who appeared in Miss Gish’s most recent film, the TV movie “Hobson’s Choice.” John Huston recalled how his father, Walter, held Lillian Gish on his shoulder for a 1902 play in Ohio, “In Convict’s Stripes.” John Houseman, who produced two films with Miss Gish, recalled that her MGM boss, Irving Thalberg, once offered to “arrange a scandal” to enliven her reputation as the eternal maiden. She declined, and shortly after talking films began she returned to the theater, mailing occasional film appearances over the years.
The seriousness with which Lillian Gish took her work was undermined at MGM in 1927 when it was suggested that a scandal might improve her performance at the box office. “You are way up there on a pedestal and nobody cares.” said the producers. “If you were knocked off the pedestal, everyone would care.” Lillian Gish realized she would be expected to give a performance off screen as well as on. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I just don’t have that much vitality.” Shortly afterward, she returned to her first love, the theater, and the cinema lost her for the better part of a decade. What the film producers failed to comprehend was how much value for the money she gave them, for she was part of an older tradition. Griffith had imbued his players with the discipline and dedication of the nineteenth-century theater, and Lillian Gish carried these qualities to unprecedented lengths.
San Bernardino Sun, Volume 66, Number 37, 6 April 1930
Lillian Gish’s Talkie Ready
Famous Star of Early Days of Movies Makes ‘One Romantic Night’ for Screen
Lillian Gish, whose first talking picture, “One Romantic Night,” is soon to be released by United Artists, will follow her work in the audible screen medium by a return to the New York stage that she left after appearing in David Belasco’s “A Good Little Devil,” with Mary Pickford and Ernest Truex, In 1913, as a child actress. She will have one of the roles in the forthcoming stage production of Tchehov’s “Uncle Vanya,” in New York, and is now rehearsing. It is not generally known that Miss Gish planned to return to the stage two years ago, when she was in Germany in connection with her Max Reinhardt film, and that at that time she rehearsed with Reinhardt’s stage players. She approaches the stage again, particularly her first mature role on it, with the attitude of a student, and believes the experience will benefit definitely her talking picture work. Ferenc Molnar’s “The Swan” Is the play upon which the first Lillian Gish talking picture is based. Rod LaRocque, Conrad Nagel, Marie Dressier and O. P. Heggle make up a strong supporting cast. Paul Stein, director of “This Thing Called Love,” directed. He is now directing Arthur Hammerstein’s “Bridge 66.”