Among the talents first introduced into the studios by Griffith were Pickford, the Gish sisters, Bessie Love, Blanche Sweet, Richard Barthelmess, Robert Harron, Mae Marsh. Griffith not only enlarged the cinema’s language but also its range of subjects. The Song of the Shirt and A Corner in Wheat attempted social questions, even if at a simple level. He embarked on his first historico-philosophical spectacles, such as Judith of Bethulia. To suit more sophisticated subjects he made films in greater length than had hitherto been customary. At four reels, Judith of Bethulia was the longest film made until that time.
- NATIONAL FILM THEATRE
- FIFTY FAMOUS FILMS
- BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE
- NATIONAL FILM ARCHIVE
- Printed by Cox & Sharland Ltd.
- London and Southampton
The publication in a single booklet of the Programme Notes covering fifty major films in the history of the Cinema drawn from our own National Film Archive and the Film Archives of other countries is one of several innovations. We believe our members will find it more convenient to have the Notes in this form. Apart from being less expensive for those who come regularly to the theatre, it is hoped that the booklet will have some value as a permanent reference work. James Quinn – DIRECTOR
This booklet is the work of many people who have been associated with the National Film Theatre during the past eight years. Apart from the contributions which are credited in the text, there are critical assessments by Lotte Eisner (Cinematheque Francaise), Penelope Houston (editor of “Sight and Sound”), Gavin Lambert (lately editor of “Sight and Sound”), Ernest Lindgren (Curator of the National Film Archive), Rachael Low (film historian and author), Liam O’Laoghaire (Film Acquisitions Officer of the National Film Archive), and Karel Reisz (film director). We take this opportunity of thanking them for their work which has helped so much to bring this present series of National Film Archive programmes into existence.
The women are goddesses, the men are matinee idols; they are all stars who command devotion and veneration. The reverential and celestial vocabulary has been consecrated by decades of usage and press agentry. The cliches’ first connotations effectively separate public from performer by an expanse of astral geography. The gods reign on high, the stars blink in solar systems light-years away, and we mere mortals, worshiping at their shrines in blissful ignorance, celebrate the distance. We join cults, we become fanatics, we endow the star system with mythologies of nostalgia by collecting the stars incarnations in roles X, Y, and Z and cherishing the relics of memorable and memorized bits. “Play it, Sam.”
With frames and photographs you’ve never seen before, with pungently alive first hand recollections, The Parade’s Gone By… recreates the earliest days of the movies, how the first moving pictures were actually shot, how the first film makers improvised, evolved— indeed invented— the techniques that we take for granted today and turned a crude, fumbling gimmick into an art.
Originally published in hardcover by Alfred A. Knopf THE PARADE’S GONE By. .. is an indispensable book of film history, acclaimed by critics as the best book on its subject in forty years, a vivid, nostalgic, immediate portrait of the cinema’s golden age.
Survivors of a golden age talk about the movies before the movies learned to talk…
The Parade’s Gone By … (Kevin Brownlow – 1968)
THEY SPEAK in this book—the pioneering directors Henry King, William Wellman, Josef von Sternberg, Clarence Brown, the stars and producer stars Harold Lloyd, Mary Pickford, Buster Keaton, Gloria Swanson, the cameramen and script writers, the film editors, the stunt men and the creative giants of the silent screen.
The best Griffiths of 1912-13 are not merely milestones of technique on the way to a final development but outstanding little films that need no apology for age. The Musketeers of Pig Alley ( 1912 ) has compositions that Eisenstein and Tisse could have been proud of a decade later. The remarkable An Unseen Enemy, also made in 1912 and used to introduce Lillian and Dorothy Gish, has a surreal, nightmare quahty to its melodrama that almost certainly influenced the images in the French serials of Feuillade. And best of all, the mature, often almost Freudian The Mothering Heart ( 1913), with a superb performance by Lillian Gish as a mature wife and mother, is a totally modern and valid film today, with erotic symbolism in its last scene so advanced for its day that one would almost think it accidental, if not for the lingering close-up that Griffith utilizes to underline the point and assure us otherwise.
- American Film Acting
- The Stanislavski Heritage
- by Richard A. Blum
- Copyright © 1984 Richard Arthur Blum All rights reserved
- Produced and distributed by UMl Research Press an imprint of University Microfilms Inc. Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106
One of Griffith’s actresses, Lillian Gish, received a letter of commendation from Nemirovich-Danchenko, who cofounded the M.A.T. with Stanislavski:
I want once more to tell you of my admiration of your genius. In that picture “The Wind” the power and expressiveness of your betrayal began real tragedy. A combination of the greatest sincerity, brilliance and unvarying charm places you in the small circle of the first tragediennes of the world…. It is quite possible that I shall write [of it] again to Russia, where you are the object of great interest and admiration by the people.”
Clearly, D. W. Griffith was an important figure in establishing realistic acting standards for American film, just as Belasco popularized realistic detail and understatement in commercial theatre.
FLASHBACK – A Brief History of Film – third edition
- LOUIS GIANNETTI (Case Western Reserve University) /SCOTT EYMAN
- © 1996, 1991, 1986 by Prentice-Hall. Inc. Simon & Schuster / A Viacom Company
- Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 07632
The nickelodeon era—an art for the masses. Cinema’s first genius: D. W. Griffith. Griffith’s Biograph shorts: 1908-1913. Evolving a film grammar: the art of editing. The Griffith stable of actors and technicians. Lillian Gish: the screen’s first great actress. Attempt by the Patents Company to monopolize motion picture production. The first moguls: Carl Laemmie, William Fox, and Adolph Zukor. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915), the screen’s first feature film masterpiece. Racial controversy. Griffith’s monumental Intolerance (1916) introduces thematic editing. The westerns of William S. Hart. Thomas Ince, the founder of the American studio system. Early works of Cecil B. De Mille, showman. Mack Sennett establishes the Keystone Studio, specializing in slapstick comedies. Early screen clowns: (Mabel Normand and Fatty Arbuckle.
Broken Blossoms was an ugly story, demanding as much sensitivity and understanding as its audiences could give it. More than that, it needed the very special visual treatment that Griffith gave it.
Photographically it was superb, with its striking sets beautifully lit. Moreover, its tinting and toning were an integral part of the whole; gentle rose hues, savage reds, rich blues for the night scenes, and other tones matching every mood and nuance. Audiences that see this film in its rare public viewing today almost invariably see a black-and-white print, which is tantamount to seeing but a pale shadow of what the film originally was. In black and white the tenderness and beauty fade, the ugliness and sheer melodrama are strengthened. The film’s whole balance is thus shifted. But in its original form the film still weaves that same magic spell that Griffith—and Lillian Gish—gave it in 1919.