The New York Times, June 2, 1929
May Hear Lillian Gish
LILLIAN GISH believes that no Hollywood player on the screen has yet surpassed the performance of the dog star, Rin-Tin-Tin. She did not have her tongue in her check when she said it. And next to animals as the supreme examples of naturalness in motion pictures she put negroes. ***
She was at the Hotel Elysee recently and had been in New York some three weeks. She has no plans. She came East to arrange “something” for herself to do soon. “The talkies? Why not?” She leaned against the needlepoint back of the chair. Her light brown hair seemed intentionally disordered, windblown against the sides of her face and the nape of her neck where it was gathered in a small knot. Her eyes were the unmistakable Gish eyes, set wide apart, quiet, peering. She pursed her lips ever so slightly so that there was a faint resemblance to the many caricatures ot the Gish sisters in which the mouth had been drawn as a tiny dot with a thin, horizontal line extending from each side.
She was mouse-like in her quiessence. Not timid, for the moment she became interested in what was said she leaned forward and spoke rapidly and with conviction. Unlike most moving picture stars, she has a viewpoint and tempers her conversation with it. She does not easily acquiesce; she argues and drives home her point.
“Amateurs are the white hopes of the cinema,” she said. “With little expense, a small apparatus and no interior sets to erect, as in the costly Hollywood productions, they will bring about a new technique. With a simple story, no overhead expense, and the wide world to take pictures in, their field is unlimited.
“In a city like New York such a picture could be ideally made. New York with its piles, its bridges stretching like muscular arms across the rivers, its architectural angles, its grandeur and sweep.
“The film could be like ‘Berlin’ which I saw abroad recently. Or better. Yes, much better. The real city is here.”
She arose from her chair to offer a huge, square box of chocolates, while she took a yellow mint from a glass jar. She wanted to hear about film developments abroad and anything new here. She asked about the Russians. She talked about Eisenstein, the Soviet director.
She picked up a snapshot from the table.
“This is a picture of my mother in Germany where she is taking a rest cure. She was fearfully ill at one time. I had to go to London to get her. I brought her back to America on a stretcher. Across the Atlantic that way and then across the United States to Hollywood. My sister, Dorothy sailed last week to see her.
“My sister? Oh, she says, she’ll never go back into films. She loves the stage and seems so happy.
“Yes, I think I shall make a talking picture. What else is there to make? I do not know yet what it will be. I have a story that I would like to do, but I am not at liberty to disclose it yet.”
There had been previous rumors that D. W. Griffith would make “The Birth of a Nation” into a talking film, with Miss Gish in the leading role. This was denied by Mr. Griffith on the grounds that the former players would not do at present tn their original roles.
Miss Gish is fond of O’Neill’s works. She expressed a wish to see some of his plays in motion pictures, especially “The Hairy Ape.”
“I suggested this to some of the producers in Hollywood,” she said, “but they must have said to themselves-yes, yes, here she is again with her suggestions.”
She threw up her hands in mock resignation.
“So you see that’s how it is in California.”
She was asked whether she would make a film with Professor Max Reinhardt directing her, as previoμsly announced before Professer Reinhardt left for Germany.
“It would be a good idea. Because there is a man who understands the use ot sound. Did you see his ‘Danton’s Tod?’ Do you remember the things he did in that? Did you see his ‘Everyman” in Germany? It was staged in the open in the public square of a little town. The actors were confined not merly within a stage space but spread over the city – in the distant hills-atop turrets. At the closee of day, when there was to be shouting from the people in the city, he was not content to let those directly in front of the audience lend the effect; he had performers from far out in the hills shouting, so that a sound depth was secured. Yes, l would like to do a picture with him. But now he is busy making German talking films.”
Miss Gish sat back in her armchair. She did not smoke any of the cigarettes she profferred. She seemed far removed from the inspired actress of her “Intolerance” role or the unsophisticated nun of “The White Sister.” One would hardly imagine her as the fluttering, emotion-streaked heroine of a dozen film plays – the Mimi of “La Boheme;” the outcast in “Way Down East.”
Once she was a mere auxiliary dancer in a stage play in which Mary Pickford appeared for David Belasco. Now she is said to be one of Miss Pickford’s closest friends.
She thinks Henry Ford a great man-a great artist. She believes that his work in manufacturing automobiles is an art and the finished products approach masterpieces. There was a knock on the door, and Miss Gish’s maid hesitated at the threshold.”
“Come in, Yosephine,” called Miss Gish, pronouncing the “J” as in German.
On the table beside lier were half a dozen books, including a copy of “Strange Interlude” and a book on “Simplified French Lessons.” She rose to escort the interviewer to the door. There was a moment of silence as she stood and shook hands with a small hand and a firm grip.
*** In the year of 1929, there were still in use some words /expressions that nowadays are offensive and regarded as racist, therefore avoided by editors. For the sake of keeping the original article as it was printed in NY Times, the text was left unchanged. Thank you for your understanding.