The Decline Of A Mandarin – by Peter John Dyer (Sight and Sound – January, 1959 – London, England)

DW Griffith in 1943
DW Griffith in 1943

Rediscovery

THE DECLINE OF A MANDARIN

by Peter John Dyer

Sight and Sound – January, 1959 – London, England

TO ANYONE WHO BELIEVES in the cinema’s living past, there will always be certain vital factors- a film (A Woman of Paris), a career (Rex Ingram, Rowland Brown) or a stage in a career (von Sternberg)-missing from his consideration of the cinema as a whole. There are plenty of text books to remind him of these factors. Otherwise, he must depend on his own faulty recollections of the original releases always assuming he was born in time to see them; and above all on the archives, booking agencies and film societies, who may or may not share his belief in the need of a sound sense of historical perspective. With the reclamation of von Stroheim in this country five years ago, only three main fields in the early American cinema seemed to remain in abeyance: the short career of Thomas lnce, who by 1916 was running Hollywood’s finest studios at Culver City, and whose prodigious output included dramas (The Wrath of the Gods, The Typhoon, The Coward) once regarded more highly than Griffith’s; the foreign invasion in the ‘twenties (Lubitsch, Leni, Sjostrom); and Griffith’s work during the same period. The National Film Theatre has recently gone some way towards repairing these deficiencies with its showings of Way Down East, Orphans of the Storm, Isn’t Life Wonderful?, Abraham Lincoln; and (during the M-G-M season) Victor Sjostrom’s The Scarlet Letter. It’s an exciting experience, after some thirty years of controversy over D. W. Griffith’s alleged decline, to come fresh to so much first-hand evidence. Did he decline? Well of course . . . in certain respects. No director can be expected to go on erecting monuments to mankind as patently sincere and exhausting as The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance: and if, just for argument, we cite Broken Blossoms (1919) as his third masterpiece, it is worth mentioning that it is also his 415th film. In the circumstances it is both unreal and unreasonable to blame Griffith for failing to maintain, in the ‘twenties, the same innovatory influence that he had throughout the previous decade.

Lillian Gish, Donald Crisp and Richard Barthelmess in “Broken Blossoms”

There is no reason why loss of influence should be the corollary of artistic decline; and surely nothing unusual in the overtaking of an older, established talent by younger ones (von Stroheim, Henry King). Griffith, in fact, has had rather a raw deal, and his decline is obviously not as prolonged, steady and uncomplicated as Lewis Jacobs makes out in his Rise of the American Film. For one thing, the two later films just shown in London (Isnt Life Wonderful?, Abraham Lincoln) are better than the earlier Way Down East and Orphans of the Storm. And for another, it does seem a trifle precipitate to start plotting the downward graph as early as 1916, when there is such a good argument to be made in favour of the lyricism and dramatic unity of a quickie like True Heart Susie (1919) as opposed to the dubious metaphysics and lumbering bulk of Intolerance.

Lillian Gish and Robert Harron in “True Heart Susie”

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Admittedly, though, there no longer seems much of value, apart from Lillian Gish’s strong emotional projection, to justify the time, trouble and $175,000 in rights expended on Way Down East (1920), ‘elaborated’ by Griffith from Lottie Blair Parker’s rheumaticky melodrama about an innocent girl tricked into a mock marriage by a wealthy farmer and then abandoned, pregnant. The elaboration consists mainly of a spectacular blizzard and the celebrated ice floe sequence. And here it is difficult to take Lillian Gish’s predicament entirely seriously once one has noticed that the ice blocks speeding her to her doom belong to one river, while the waterfall awaiting her belongs quite clearly to another. A slightly earlier lapse in continuity concerns the seducer, whose distinctive high-boots stamp up the Bartletts’ front steps, change into trouser legs on entrance, and change inexplicably back again when he takes his leave. That one notices such minor distractions is some measure of the film’s shortcomings. A familiar expression of Griffith’s passionate social feeling, its dramatic validity is quickly undermined by characterisation as fiat as the photography, depressingly low comedy relief and a generally bungled coaching of actors. Lowell Sherman’s potentially able performance is cramped by the imposition of that hard-dying tradition whereby seducers carry on like female impersonators; and even Richard Barthelmess is made to pirouette. As usual, the best episodes are those giving gentler scope to Griffith’s response to human affections: Lillian, Madonna-like, baptising her dying baby; Lillian, listening to one man confess his betrayal and another his love; Lillian in the parlour alcove, quietly sewing near a roaring fire, in the only scene shot with real depth and intimacy.

Lillian Gish, Lowell Sherman, Richard Barthelmess, Burr Mackintosh and Kate bruce under direction of D.W. Griffith in “Way Down East”

After making Dream Street, a minor pot-boiler, Griffith returned to the kind of large-scale costume film that appealed to audiences through tried and trusted narrative devices, while assuaging his own frustrated longings to be taken seriously as a philosopher. He decided on another old play- already filmed twice, latterly as a Theda Bara vehicle and changed the title to Orphans of the Storm (1921 ). The film begins as a fairly straight adaptation, with the two devoted sisters setting out for Paris by stagecoach to seek a cure for Louise (Dorothy Gish), who is blind. Instead she is kidnapped by a fierce old woman and made to beg in the streets, while Henriette (Lillian Gish) finds herself in a palace garden, at the mercy of the decadent Marquis de Praille, during one of his orgies (ladies jumping through fountains and casting oeillades at the camera). Her rescue, and final reunion with Louise, is brought about through the love of a handsome Chevalier (Joseph Schildkraut), though not before she has spent what seems like ages stretched prone beneath a guillotine-blade. The film’s strength is Griffith’s indisputable showmanship, at its keenest in the reunion scene, with the blind girl singing in the street, and Henriette in a room above, absorbed in the Countess’s story, hearing and gradually recognising her sister’s voice, then finding herself prevented from reaching her.

Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Joseph Schildkraut in – “Orphans of the Storm”

Again one is struck by the sheer impudence of Griffith’s suspense draughtsmanship, and amazed at the degree of cumulative impact in all that laborious cross-cutting, solely concerned as it is with covering the same small area of plot development without showing the least inclination to advance or resolve it. If Stroheim’s interest in a fire could most characteristically express itself through detailed investigation of the fire brigade’s activities, then Griffith’s would centre with equal concentration on every possible gesture of horrified incredulity that there is a fire. Unfortunately Griffith’s political moralising, though at no time impairing his innate showmanship, is a good deal less rewarding. Carlyle is invoked, Danton becomes “the Abraham Lincoln of France,” while hysterical warnings against the menace of Bolshevism betray a familiar note of xenophobia. Like several contemporary German films, in fact, Orphans of the Storm is disfigured by its spineless attitude to the French revolution. But where they have a striking surface accuracy, lending an even uglier tone to their basically nihilistic content, Griffith’s approach is so lacking in verisimilitude, taste and reticence as to be quite innocuous.

Captions describe the aristocrats as ” kingly bosses”, and the nearest we get to a sense of democratic upheaval is “Exultant! The Revolution Almost Ready!” as if it were a milk pudding.

D.W. Griffith’s – “Isnt Life Wonderful?

After a murder mystery, One Exciting Night, and the seduction of Mae Marsh by Ivor Novello in The White Rose (the stills look pretty, especially one of fireside romance), Griffith returned to the epic form with America. Whether or not this was inspired, as Lewis Jacobs says, by the phenomenal success of Cruze’s The Covered Wagon, it becomes increasingly difficult to follow a line of argument that cites Griffith’s next film, Isn’t Life Wonderful? (1924), as further evidence of his “lack of touch with the times.” There is, on the contrary, something distinctly brave and encouraging in Griffith’s decision to go to Germany and make a film described by Jacobs as “simple to the point of bareness (which) appeared drab and out of place beside the films of glamour and elegance then in vogue.”

Carol Dempster

Acutely felt and finely expressed, Isnt Life Wonderful? describes the struggle for existence of a family of Polish refugees in post-war Germany. Historically it is important as the rounded summation of all Griffith’s earlier social exposes, beginning with A Corner in Wheat in 1909; and in its anticipation, at a time when Germany still weltered exclusively in expressionism of new trends to be indicated a year later in Pabst’s Joyless Street. Griffith’s approach is quite dissimilar, of course, being sad and romantic rather than detached and clinical; but- apart from that operetta finale in a cosy little cottage- there is an almost documentary force in his portrayal of starvation and squalor. Perhaps he is apt to make his points with newsreel brusqueness, inserting authentic battlefront scenes and haunting shots of sullen, emaciated children in something like his old tableau vivant manner. But when he does manage to assimilate this location material into the mainstream of dramatic continuity, the results are memorable. The meat queue sequence in particular, with prices soaring after every customer is served, and the girl’s growing apprehension as she keeps counting her money and studying the blackboard, is intensely moving. Actually, a lot of the film’s quality derives from its acting, and the outstanding performance of Carol Dempster, a hunted, intense little creature of touching poignancy. As her boy friend, a gassed ex-soldier, Neil Hamilton is more virile and gauntly mature than the usual run of Griffith heroes, and the restraint of his sick-bed scene carries great conviction. Best of their scenes together is the climactic pursuit through a forest at dusk, with the frightened couple mistaken for profiteers by a surly gang of labourers, she begging in vain to be allowed to keep their winter stock of precious potatoes, and finally both sinking to the ground, a year’s work wasted, their spirit momentarily broken, while the nearby river flows symbolically on.

D.W. Griffith’s “Abraham Lincoln”

Inevitably, in a dropsical year that laboured and brought forth Monsieur Beaucaire, Beau Brummel and Dante’s Inferno, Griffith’s reproachful little pieta meant nothing at the box-office. Six minor films followed before he returned to independent production and congenial subject-matter with Abraham Lincoln (1930). His first talkie and his last available work (The Struggle, made a year later, was withdrawn after a few performances), it offers little conclusive evidence of Griffith’s potentialities as a sound film director. Admittedly it is episodic af!d often static, but this has always been Hollywood’s traditional approach to the sober, burning-the-midnight-oil school of biography. Jacobs pounces unerringly on the two blatant examples of Griffith’s weakness for pathos: the death of Ann Rutledge, played quite appallingly by Una Merkel as a simpering nanny-goat, and Lincoln’s pardon of a condemned boy soldier, glassy-eyed from his visitation by a ‘boyhood chum’. Yet .he makes no mention of all the good things: Walter Huston’s unique impersonation of Lincoln, the impeccable playing of briefly seen historical figures, Hobart Bosworth’s tragic nobility as General Lee. The crowd scenes are magnificent; there are one or two vast, busy shots of battle preparation as authentically Brady-ish as any in The Red Badge of Courage; above all, there is the assassination of Lincoln, the rightness of its off-hand, prosaic view of violence quickly brought home by the absurd figure of John Wilkes Booth popping on and off the stage ill a feeble burst of gratified exhibitionism. Griffith could be surprisingly perceptive on occasion. He could also be maddeningly obtuse. Voted the director of the year for Abraham,Lincoln, he retorted that it would have been a far better film had he not been compelled to make it “all dry history with no thread of romance.” Yet it is in his writings that one most clearly observes the hint of megalomania that contributed to his downfall. There is something of Citizen Kane about this exiled mandarin, expressing disappointment in Europe’s war damage and finding it, “viewed as drama,” less impressive than his sets for Intolerance; or railing against income tax as the path to Bolshevism; or planning to film Faust (till Lillian Gish stopped him) in 72 reels. On his own ground as a liberal, 19th century humanist, Griffith played an inestimable role in the cinema’s development. But away from his own fireside and into an earlier or a later century, the result at best was a flawed and compromised minor masterpiece (Isn’t Life Wonderful?); at worst, an outmoded soap-opera (Way Down East) or a rabid, reactionary apologia (Orphans of the Storm).

Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson, Henry B Walthall, Karl Dane – The Scarlet Letter

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Throughout his career, Griffith’s artistic development was notoriously handicapped by his ominously strong penchant for stories concerned with the rape or general maltreatment of defenceless girls, and it is interesting to speculate on the results had he, instead of Sjostrom, been chosen to direct Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1926). Its classic line and interior conflict between austere repression and elemental law might have produced a notable extension to Griffith’s talents: for Sjostrom such a subject could only be a variation on a theme expressed many times previously in such works as Ingmar’s Sons and Love’s Crucible. None the less, Sjostrom approached the assignment with fresh sympathy and thorough professional skill, and today his film seems the most artistically satisfying of the five discussed here. His achievement is the more remarkable when one considers the talents employed on it. Frances Marion, previously Mary Pickford’s screenwriter, refined the novel into a simple, traditional folk-tale about an innocent little seamstress, Hester Prynne, in Puritan New England, her loyal devotion through years of persecution to the minister, Dimmesdale, who is the secret father of her child, and the ultimate cruelty of fate, personified by the Ibsenish figure of her long-lost husband. The isolation of the main characters is emphasised by the stylised but flexible photography of Hendrik Sartov, Griffith’s one-time cameraman, who framed his lovers within brightly lit foregrounds behind which the backdrops washed eerily away. Impressive as the New England atmosphere is-and all re-created on a Culver City lot-it is equalled by the performances.

Sight and Sound (1959-01)(BFI)(GB).pdf
Lillian Gish and Henry B Walthall in – The Scarlet Letter

Lars Hansen, though somewhat too rigidly open-mouthed in the middle scenes·of anguished guilt, brings welcome humour to his early embarrassment in the face of Hester’s bird-like curiosity, and real power to his final breast-beating self-denunciation on the scaffold. Henry B. Walthall as Prynne, and Joyce Coad as the child, are both perfect. But when all is said and done, it is Lillian Gish’s Hester that gives The Scarlet Letter its depth, its impact, its final touch of greatness. Sjostrom is very much an actress’s director, and from the earliest scenes of Hester’s mercurial innocence, thoughtlessly “running and playing on ye Sabbath” or leaving a forbidden scrap of laundry draped shockingly over a currant bush, to the pathos of the doom-laden finale, Lillian Gish plays with a maturity and unforced, natural eloquence denied her throughout her apprenticeship with Griffith.

Like the young Bette Davis, whom she here uncannily resembles, Lillian Gish has a surprising physical and mental toughness, an intensity in repose and an inexhaustible spirit of psychological enquiry all alien to Griffith’s narrow and arbitrary ideal of femininity. This fresh discovery allows us one last, inescapable conclusion: it was in reality Griffith, and never Sjostrom, whose acting school was one of repression.

Hester Prynne - Lillian Gish in the Scarlet Letter 2

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Sight and Sound (1959-01)(BFI)(GB) The Decline of a Mandarin

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Dorothy Gish, Actress, Is Dead – The New York Times – June 6, 1968

Dorothy Gish, Actress, Is Dead

In Theater and Films 50 Years

Starred With Sister, Lillian, in Griffith Silent Classics — Many Broadway Roles

The New York Times – June 6, 1968

RAPALLO. Italy, June 5 (AP)

-Dorothy Gish, one of the two sisters. who entertained motion picture audiences and theatergoers for more than a half-century, died here last night. She was 70 years old. Her sister, Lillian, who has been making a movie in Rome, was at her bedside. Dorothy had been in a clinic here for nearly two years. She died of bronchial pneumonia. The United States consulate in Genoa said that Miss Gish’s body would be cremated and that the ashes would be returned to the United States.

Extra in Films in 1912

Although Dorothy and Lillian often worked together and had careers that were in many ways parallel, they were not a team. In the highly competitive world of acting, they remained a harmonious pair of sisters who admired each other.

The Gish sisters reached the peak of popularity during the silent screen days, but Dorothy was only 4 and Lillian 6 when they went on stage professionally.

They started in movies in 1912 under the wing of D.W. Griffith, the grandmaster of silent-screen films. They got their job through Mary Pickford, a friend whom they only knew by her real name, Gladys Smith, when they sought her out at Griffith’s Biograph Company at 11 East 14th Street in New York. They had seen Gladys in a movie and thought they would like to try the new medium.

Griffith started them as extras. In order to ten them apart at first, he had Lillian wear a blue ribbon and Dorothy, then 14, a red one. He was so impressed with their talents that he took them to California, for his customary West Coast fall season at $50 a week, a sound wage for those silent days.

‘Familiar With Tempo’

“Mr. Griffith spent months in rehearsing his players and plots before a camera turned,” Dorothy recalled years later.

“By the time a photoplay went into actual production, an actor was thoroughly familiar with his own part as well as the tempo, approach and reactions of other members of the cast.

“Most of Mr. Griffith’s films were shot without scripts and were improvised in the manner of the commedia dell’arte,” she continued. “Individual scenes were staged and re-staged until a maximum effect was realized and footage was closely checked with a stop watch. This saved large sums in raw film and time and kept production cost from soaring.”

During her years in films, Miss Gish appeared in “An Unseen Enemy,” “Hearts of the World,” “ The Orphans of the Storm,” “Tip-Toes,” ”London,” “Nell Gwynn,” “Romola,” and “Madame Pompadour.” Of all her screen roles, Miss Gish preferred playing the Little Disturber in “Hearts of the World,” which Griffith made in England and France during World War I.

In 1918, she worked for a while in New York with Paramount Pictures, making “Battling Jane,” “I’ll Get Him Yet” and “Remodeling Her Husband.” The last had Richard Barthelmess (***Not James Rennie?) as her leading man and her sister as director.

After 1928 and the advent of talkies, she made only three films, “Our Hearts Were Young and Gay,” (1944) “Centennial Summer” (1946) and “The Whistle at Eaton Falls” (1951).

As much as she was gratified by her film career, Miss Gish’s first love, as with many performers was the stage. Her string of credits through 1956, was long and respectable.

They included Fay Hilary in “Young Love,” (1928); Maria in “The Inspector General” (1930), Emily Dickinson in “Brittle Heaven” (1934), Fanny in “Autumn Crocus” (1932), Fanny Dixwell Holmes in “The Magnificent Yankee” (1946), and Mrs. Gillis in “The Man” (1950), her last Broadway role.

dorothy gish - as photographed for - dorothy and lillian gish - by lillian gish 69

She succeeded Dorothy Stickney for almost a year in the starring role of Vinnie, the patient mother, in the Broadway hit “Life With Father.” In 1956,she starred in “The Chalk Garden,” at The Spa in Saratoga N.Y.

Dorothy Gish was born March 11, 1898. She once told how she came to her stage career:

“Mother came up from Massillon, Ohio, where we were born, partly to look for our father, who had left us, and partly to try to earn a living for all three of us. We were practically destitute. She rented one of the old-fashioned railroad apartments, and advertised for ‘genteel lady roomers.’

One of the genteel ladies who rented a room was an actress, and after she had been with us a few weeks, she had an offer for a part in a road company production of ‘East Lynne,’ provided she could find a small child … to play the part of Little Willie.”

Mrs. Gish found someone – Dorothy. Four years later, in 1906, she made her debut at the Lincoln Square Theater with Fiske O’Hara in “Dion O’ Dare.”

She played juvenile parts until 1912 when she and Lillian went into the movies.

Miss Gish was once described, much later in life, by a writer who called her ”a deep-voiced woman … with an unabated zest for life, a faintly ribald sense of humor and an uncompromising faculty for self-appraisal.”

In 1951, when she was making “The Whistle at Eaton Falls,” she said that she particularly enjoyed making the film because it “reminded me so much of the way we made pictures in the old days of Mr. Griffith.” She explained further: “To me, there’s too much spit’n’ polish about today’s film technique. When Lillian and I were in silent films, we did every thing for ourselves – mother made our costumes, we did our own hair, put on our own make-up.

“Nowadays, you have a couple of people getting you into costume, another couple fussing around on your hair, others with your face. You feel, somehow, like Marie Antoinette-even with the best will in the world, rather aloof and removed.”

Miss Gish loved to travel and she stipulated that her career should not interfere with her wanderings. She lived for months in England, Italy, Yugoslavia and Africa. She also had a home at Wilson Point, near Newport, Conn.

In 1920, she and James Rennie, a New York actor, eloped to Greenwich, Conn. The marriage ended in divorce 15 years later.

*** Admin. Note: Dorothy Gish had James Rennie as her leading man in “Remodeling Her Husband,” not Richard Barthelmess.

Dorothy Gish cca 1930 - by Nell Dorr 2
Nell Dorr (1893-1988); [Dorothy Gish in costume]; ca. 1920s; Gelatin silver print; Amon Carter Museum of American Art; Fort Worth, Texas; Bequest of Nell Dorr; P1990.45.464

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Dorothy Gish is dead - The New York Times June 6 1968
Dorothy Gish is dead – The New York Times June 6 1968

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Gish and Garbo – The Executive War on Stars – By Louise Brooks (Sight and Sound – January, 1959 – London, England)

Louise Brooks

Gish and Garbo – The Executive War on Stars

By Louise Brooks

Sight and Sound – January, 1959 – London, England

Hollywood and its stars are used to being written about, but it is not often that the stars themselves are prepared to discuss frankly the cinema as they see it. We here publish an extract from a book Louise Brooks is at present writing ” Women in Films”which promises to be a unique, intensely individual record of Hollywood thirty years ago.

Many of the films of Louise Brooks have disappeared from the screen, and Miss Brooks herself has been called the ‘lost starof the ‘twenties. After beginning her career as a dancer with Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn at the age of fifteen, she was working for Ziegfeld when she was signed up by Hollywood and within a few years was a top star. She made two films with Pabst, “Pandora’s Box” and “Diary of a Lost Girl,” and among her other notable pictures were Howard Hawks’ “A Girl in Every Port,” Genina’s “Prix de Beaute,” and “The Canary Murder Case.” Meanwhile Louise Brooks herself has never been forgotten ; and in Paris she has recently been attending a special series of her films mounted by the Cinematheque Francaise.

THERE was a time when I began work on this book [Women in Films] that I had a great deal to say about the failure of the most powerful stars in maintaining the qualities of their uniqueness which had first made them the idols of the public. I found a great deal to condemn in their lack of judgment in accepting poor pictures. In the spring of 1958, looking at Lillian Gish in One Romantic Night (The Swan), I could not understand how she could have gone back to Hollywood in 1929 to play that ghostly part in that foolish picture made where, two years before, her spirit had gone forever- “forgotten by the place where it grew.”

Lillian Gish Conrad Nagel 1930 Swan 2

But now, after deeper penetration into the picture executives’ aims ‘and methods, I can only wonder and rejoice at the power of personality, intellect and will that kept Lillian Gish a star for fifteen years. I can only be endlessly grateful that she was able to make so many marvellous pictures before the producers found the trick of curbing the stars and standardising their product according to their will and personal taste. And it was never their will, but the public’s which made them exploiters of great personalities and builders of enduring stars. It was never their taste, but that of certain writers and directors by which their product sometimes lost its passing value as entertainment and gained the enduring value of art. All the jumbled pieces of the picture puzzle began to fall in place one day while I was thinking about one of Hollywood’s foremost producers of the 1950’s, whom I used to know in New York when he worked in a department store. For that led me to the realization that as an actress I had been treated exactly as later I was treated as a salesgirl at the New York department store where I was accepted for work in 1946. They preferred young girls (I was 39) but otherwise I fitted nicely within the store’s policy. I got $30 a week. I was inexperienced and would not make too many sales. I would not stay too long. A few girls of exceptional ability there were who were allowed to stay, to build a following and collect a small percentage of their sales. But beyond this limited permission it was impossible for the selling of the merchandise ever to become dependent on the salesgirls. The customers were drawn by the name of the store and the merchandise. A great lot of dresses with mass appeal would be advertised with attractive snobbery in all the Sunday papers. On Monday they would sell themselves. At the end of the season, to clear the way for the new merchandise, old stuff was either reduced in price or sold as waste to anyone who could use it.

Movies in America - David Wark Griffith
Movies in America – David Wark Griffith

From this viewpoint, the successful leap of so many from the garment industry in New York to the picture industry in Hollywood was no longer remarkable. Except geographically, it never took place. The men from the garment district simply went on to run the studios, the theatres and the exchanges just as they had run the dress factories, the whole-sale houses and the department stores. They used the writers, directors and actors just as they had used the dress designers, tailors and sales people. And was it not reasonable to continue to love and exploit only what they possessed their names, their business and their product? What was more natural than to despise the old pictures that depressed the market? What was more sensible than ridding themselves of all but the negatives they were forced by law to keep in order to prove their property rights? Old pictures were bad pictures. Pictures were better than ever. An actor was only as good as his last picture. These three articles of faith were laid down by the producers and business conducted in a manner to prove them. As far as the public was concerned, it was an expensive grind of years – teaching it to sneer at old pictures. People were accustomed to seeing the same things over and over and loving them more and more – the same minstrel shows and vaudeville acts, the same Sothern and Marlowe in The Merchant of Venice. Why not the same Lon Chaney in The Hunchback of Notre Dame? the same Negri in Passion? As late as 1930, Photoplay magazine reported: “There was a deluge of ‘what-has-become-of’s’ this month. Fans would like to see some of the silent favourites – both stars and pictures – brought back.” But Hollywood feared and believed at once and without question. Even Charlie Chaplin believed, he whose supreme success depended chiefly on the continued showing of his old pictures. Among all the creative minds of the picture business, D. W. Griffith, alone, knew the lie. “The public isn’t fickle about its stars,” he said in 1926. “Stars do not slip quickly despite the theory to the contrary. You hear that so-and-so will die if he doesn’t get a good picture immediately. Consider how many weak pictures have been made by big favourites- who are still favourites.” But who cared what Griffith said? Like his plot of sin and punishment and violent sexual pleasure, he was dead. Late at night in the New York Paramount studio, I used to see him patrolling the dark sets of The Sorrows of Satan, like a man cut from a 1910 catalogue of Gentlemen’s Apparel.

The Movies Mr. Griffith and Me (03 1969) - Griffith demonstrating his rapport with animals — with D. W. Griffith.

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1925 was the year when two things happened which finally bound the producers together in a concerted war on the Star System. It was the terrible year when “the spoiled child of industry” suddenly found itself in subjection to Wall Street. Modestly declaring a hands-off policy, the bankers had been financing the producers in their effort to buy up the country’s 20,500 picture theatres and encouraging them to spend 250,000,000 a year on theatre construction. And now bankers were sitting in on board meetings and giving producers orders. Bankers, having penetrated the secrets of the picture corporations’ books and studio overhead, were sharing generously in the once private “golden harvest of the producers.” Finding that it wasn’t the name of a lion roaring on a title sheet, but the name of a star that drew that $750,000,000 gross at the box-office, bankers were objecting to the abuse of stars exemplified by Paramount’s ruthless blackballing of Valentino. (He got $2,000 for making The Sheik.) Naturally, the producers did not even consider giving upcutting salaries and firing stars in order to make up their losses and to refresh their prestige. It was simply a question of using a subtler technique to be confirmed by box-office failure. And marked first for destruction was Lillian Gish.

Irving G. Thalberg, Lillian Gish, Louis B. Mayer 1926
Irving G. Thalberg, Lillian Gish, Louis B. Mayer 1926

She was the obvious choice. Among all the detestable stars who stood between the movie moguls and the full realization of their greed and elf-aggrandisement, it was Lillian Gish who most painfully imposed her picture knowledge and business acumen upon the producers. She was a timely martyr also, being Hollywood’s radiant ymbol of purity standing in the light of the new sex star. Because it was all of the glorious year when Will Hays had killed censorship in all but five state. Of these, New York was the only one that mattered – meaning New York City where Mr. Hay had thoughtfully set up the National Board of Review, “opposed to legal censorship and in favour of the constructive method of selecting the better pictures,” which had already put a passing mark on the producers’ test runs with adult pictures of sexual realism. A Woman of Paris, Greed and The Salvation Hunters had all been tolerated by the public. It had accepted the new hero with the conscienceless sophitication of Adolphe Menjou and the unbridled manliness of John Gilbert, mounted on the beloved proposition that practically all women are whores anyhow. Everything was set for the box-office treasure where the producers’ heart lay, when they were pulled up with the realisation that they had no heroine with youth, beauty and personality enough to make free love sympathetic. To be beautifully handled, a female star’s picture still had to have a tag showing marriage. Mae Murray, fighting for her virtue against von Stroheim’s direction in The Merry Widow, had proved the impossibility of transmuting established stars into the new gold.

The worldly woman type, given a whirl with Edna Purviance, Florence Vidor and Aileen Pringle, was too remote and mature to intrigue the public. The passionate Negri, after being worked over by Paramount for three years, was dead at the box-office. And the producers were driving actresses out of their minds – draping Barbara LaMarr in nun’s veils to make her sympathetic and sticking a rose between the teeth of Hollywood’s most celebrated screen virgin, Lois Wilson, to make her sexy. And then in the early spring of 1925, Louis B. Mayer found her! Looking at Greta Garbo in Gosta Berling in Berlin, he knew as sure as he was alive that he had found a sexual symbol beyond his imagining. Here was a face as purely beautiful as Michelangelo’s Mary of the Pieta, yet glowing with passion. The suffering of her soul was such that the American public would forgive all thirty-nine of her affairs in The Torrent. At last – marriage – the obstacle standing between sex and pleasure could be done away with!

Greta Garbo 1

At last, an answer to young actresses who wanted to play good girls! Perfume the casting couch! Bring on the hair bleach, the eyebrow tweezers and the false eyelashes! As for the established women stars, it was only a question of a year or two until the powerful support of the studios would be withdrawn from all of them. The timely coincidence of talking pictures served as a plausible reason to the public for the disappearance of many favourites. But there wasn’t an actress in Hollywood who didn’t understand the true reason.

Greta Garbo.

From the moment The Torrent went into production, no actress was ever again to be quite happy in herself. The whole MGM studio, including Monta Bell, the director, watched the daily rushes with amazement as Garbo created out of the stalest, thinnest material the complex, enchanting shadow of a soul upon the screen. And it was such a gigantic shadow that people didn’t speak of it. At parties, two or three times a week, I would see Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg, Hunt Stromberg, Paul Bern, Jack Conway and Clarence Brown, all of whom worked at MGM. By chance, if one of the men was so inhumane as to speak of a Garbo picture, one of the girls would say, “Yes, isn’t she divine? ” and hurry on to a less despairing subject.

Greta Garbo Queen Christina 1933

Lillian Gish

Another name never mentioned in endless shop talk was that of Lillian Gish. The guilty, incredible suspicion that MGM had put her under contract at a spectacular salary in order methodically to destroy her might not have been forced upon me had I not seen The Wind at the Dryden Theatre in Rochester’s Eastman House one night in 1956. I had never heard of it! And I could find no clue to its making. Gish’s clothes were charmingly contrived from all periods, from no period. Millers had been making those dancing slipper since 1915. Her hair was either piled up in a dateless fashion on top of her head or swirling round her throat and shoulders, more tormenting than the wind. Victor Seastrom [Sjostrom], in his direction shared her art of escaping time and place. They were meant for each other- Seastrom and Gish – like the perfume and the rose. After the picture, I could hardly wait to ask Jim Card when and where it was made. “In Hollywood in 1927 at MGM? Why, I was there then, working at Paramount! How come I never heard a word about The Wind?Determined to solve this mystery of obliteration, I went at once to the files of Photoplay magazine. Its editor, James Quirk, seems to have wept and raged, danced and exulted, with every heartbeat of the MGM executives. And I found that the last kindness Photoplay howed Lillian Gish, until after she left the MGM studio, appeared in a caption under her photograph in the October 1924 issue.

Romola was “one of the highly promising things of the new film season.” From then on, I pursued Quirk’s fascinating operations on Gish like Sherlock Holmes. Her unprecedented contract ($800,000 for six pictures in two years) was belatedly tossed off on a back page in June, 1925. In September, even before her first picture, La Boheme, had gone into production, Photoplay became unaccountably worked up in an editorial reading: “What does the future hold for Lillian Gish?

Lillian Gish – The Enigma of The Screen – article By James R. Quirk

Criticism has its fads and fancies and it has in the past few years become fashionable. to laud her as the Duse of the screen, yet, since she left Mr. Griffith’s studios, nothing has appeared which should give her artistic preference over other actresses who have earned high places. She has always played the frail girl caught in the cruel maelstrom of life, battling helplessly for her honour or her happiness. She has a philosophy of life which she adheres to with a deliberateness that amounts almost to a religion, reminding me of a girlish ‘Whistler’s mother’. While she may not be the intellectual personality some writers are so fond of seeing in her because of her serenity, she has a soundness of business judgment which has enabled her to capitalise her screen personality with one of the largest salaries . . . Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Gish play a Barbara LaMarr role, for Duse was a versatile actress, if ever there was one.”

With the release of La Boheme, in March 1926, Quirk himself put the question to his more than·2,000,000 readers in a long piece, ‘The Enigma of the Screen’. ” Lillian Gish has never become definitely established in a place of public favour . She achieves greatness of effect through a ingle phase of emotion; namely, hysteria . . . As a regular commercial routine star grinding on schedule with whatever material is at hand, her fate at the box-office would be as tragic as it invariably is on the screen. Witnesses of the playing of scenes in La Boheme felt this strongly. The acting methods of John Gilbert and Miss Gish are entirely different. He expressed the opinion that she was the great artist of the screen and that she knew more technically than anyone else. Yet plainly his work was suffering under that method.” D. W. Griffith was involved in an interview printed in December. “Asked about Miss Gish, in view of her more recent film roles, he countered, ‘Who is greater?’.” The June 1926 Brief Review of La Boheme read: “A simple love story wonderfully directed by King Vidor and acted with much skill by John Gilbert. Lillian Gish is also in the cast.”

In October The Scarlet Letter was reviewed with: “Lillian Gish wears the red letter of sin with her stock virginal sweetness.” The gossip pages were seeded with items like: “Who is your choice for Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes? Ours is Lillian Gish. But, failing to get Lillian, we suggest that Paramount borrow the services of Harry Langdon. In July, under a full page profile of Mae Murray, was tucked the line: “For here is a picture of Mae that makes her look just the way Lillian Gish would look if Lillian had IT.” In May, following a straightforward article by Peter B. Kyne about pictures being the reflection of the producers’ taste, not of the publics demand, the following paragraph was slapped on at the end: “Some months ago, Mr. Louis B. Mayer asked me to write a story to feature Miss Lillian Gish. I asked him what type of story he required for her and he said he didn’t know, but that it was certain she would have to suffer a lot. Alas, poor Louis! I know him well!”

Louis B Mayer, Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg
Louis B Mayer, Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg

Ramon Novarro - Greta Garbo - Mata Hari

In time I became such a good Quirk student that, after the completion of “The Temptress” when Garbo’s power and demands were beginning to tell on MGM, I predicted the beginning of her nasty publicity in the July 1926 issue. And sure enough, the first threat of the only thing Garbo feared – deportation- was conveyed to her in one of those “why don’t they go back where they came from” articles titled “The Foreign Legion in Hollywood.” Will Hays’ friends in the Department of Immigration were coming in handy for something besides getting the producers’ relations into the country.

Greta Garbo Ross Verlag Germany

Compared to Quirk’s finished mauling of Lillian Gish, MGM’s application of the dig-your-own-grave technique was a sloppy job which was not to achieve a slick finish till the time after the death of Irving Thalberg in 1936, when Mayer began restocking hi stables with actresses closer to his heart, working on that insoluble problem of how to make a box-office star without at the same time making her unattainable. Eased out with full approval, in the perfection of their beauty, art and popularity, were Jeannette MacDonald, Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, and finally Garbo.

King Vidor Lillian Gish and filming team La Boheme
King Vidor Lillian Gish and filming team La Boheme

With Gish it was a question of how to get her to make a real stinker. Under her supervision, La Boheme and The Scarlet Letter were fine pictures. So while she was called away to bring her sick mother home from London, the studio carefully framed a picture postcard called Annie Laurie which she returned to find all ready to shoot – sets, costumes and Norman Kerry.

Back in charge she next made The Wind, which was so loaded with sex and violence that MGM held up its release until the first Academy Award had been safely dealt to· Janet Gaynor. And then Gish’s strength failed and she accepted a dreary studio property, The Enemy. She could go now, MGM said, she needn’t make the sixth picture. At last Quirk was able to set her up as an example and a warning to any actress who might presume beyond sex and beauty. MGM had let her go because she got 8,000 a week! And, he developed, without a blush, all the pictures made on her say-so were box-office failures.

Stigmatised, a grasping silly sexless antique, at the age of 31, the great Lillian Gish left Hollywood forever, without a head turned to mark her departure. “A shadow’s shadow – a world of shadows.”

THE SCARLET LETTER, Lillian Gish (hands clasped front left), Victor Sjostrom (aka Victor Seastrom) (hand in pocket front right) with the crew on-set, 1926
THE SCARLET LETTER, Lillian Gish (hands clasped front left), Victor Sjostrom (aka Victor Seastrom) (hand in pocket front right) with the crew on-set, 1926

3

There is something fateful now in remembering that after Gish ran Costa Berling to look at Lars Hansen for The Scarlet Letter, she said that she had faith in Mayer because he had brought over Greta Garbo. Not possibly could she have guessed that this event would make Gish roles obsolete as fast as the studio could clean up her contract. Even less could she have guessed that uprooting her as a chaste reproach in the new paradise of sex films would become less imperative than getting her out of Garbo’s meditative sight. Before The Torrent started, while the studio kept Garbo hanging around the lot (we’re paying you, aren’t we?) making publicity stills, she was able to observe Gish at work on La Boheme. Watching the only American star whose integrity, dedication and will brought her work up to the standards of order and excellence she had learned in Europe, Garbo saw that the helpless actress being churned in a clabber of expedience, irresolution, unpredictable hours and horseplay was not necessarily the law of American film production.

Greta Garbo Anna Karenina

The May, 1926, Photoplay quoted Garbo as saying “I will be glad when I am a ‘beeg’ star like Lillian Gish. Then I will not need publicity and to have ‘peectures’ taken shaking hands with a prize fighter.” But no amount of the studio’s calculated ‘dumb Swede’ publicity could alter the fact that Garbo could read the box-office figures in Variety and get exactly the same answers Louis B. Mayer got. La Boheme and The Torrent opened the same week in February, 1926, on Broadway. La Boheme, a great story with a great director, King Vidor, and two great stars, Lillian Gish and John Gilbert, did average business at the Embassy Theatre. Lillian Gish got $400,000 a year. The Torrent, a senseless story with a fair director and Ricardo Cortez, a comic Valentino-type leading man, and an unknown actress, Garbo, did top business at the Capitol Theatre. Garbo got 16,000 a year.

Greta Garbo and John Gilbert

After The Temptress, when Garbo said, “I do not want to be a silly temptress. I cannot see any sense in getting dressed up and doing nothing but tempting men in pictures,” Quirk was compelled to write in his December editorial: “When you learn to speak English, gal, inquire how many beautiful and clever girls have been absolutely ruined by playing good women without ever a chance to show how bad they could be. Some actresses would give a year’s salary if they could once be permitted to play a hell-raising, double-crossing censor-teaser for six reels. There are exceptions, of course. Lillian Gish continues to demonstrate that virtue can be its own reward to the tune of eight thousand bucks a week. Nevertheless, Anna Karenina, which had been announced in November as going into production with Lillian Gish, became Love with Greta Garbo. Love was Garbo’s first picture after signing a new MGM contract in May, 1927. After the long hold-out off salary, her business triumph over the studio was collecting with stunning impact on seven months of nation-wide publicity. The studio had not reckoned on defeat and its consequences. And the victory of one friendless girl in an alien land over the best brains of a great corporation had rocked all Hollywood. In the fury of the battle, Quirk had laid it on the line for Garbo in the April, 1927, Photoplay: “Metro is said to have told Garbo that, unless she signs, she will be deported at the end of her passport time limit, in June.” The revelation of this pressure was later masked by the invention of the “I ‘tank’ I go home” gag. Because, if Garbo had really wanted to go home, she would have gotten her 7,500 a week – and double. But she dared not risk even a scheming departure. For two years she had worked at MGM in that climate of worship and service which had secured the purity of her art. And, as well as she knew that she was Queen of all movie stars then and forever – she knew that to leave her kingdom was to become a wandering tarnished star like all the rest.

Louis B. Mayer MGM 1944 WM
Louis B. Mayer MGM 1944 WM

How well she knew her genius was revealed to me when I met her one Sunday in the summer of 1928 at the house of the writer Benjamin Glazer. His wife, Alice, was a witty, outrageous woman perfectly suited to Garbo’s shyness and my sulky discontent. Apart from the other guests clattering through lunch in the patio, Garbo and I sat with Alice drinking coffee in a little breakfast room. The subject of the conversation, of course, was Alice’s and therefore personal. I had divorced Eddie Sutherland in June, and while Alice poked into my private life with ribald questions and the worst possible assumptions, Garbo and I sat laughing and looking at each other. And it was then in that free and happy moment that Garbo seemed to condense, as it were, into a crystal of gracious joy in herself. Remembering the distillation of the whole of her beauty and art in that lovely moment, makes me wonder at the meanness of the human mind which still believes the most obviously ridiculous of all Garbo myths. Photoplay gave it birth in the same April article that carried the deportation threat. “Metro wanted Stiller, and Miss Garbo, his find, was signed reluctantly at a sliding scale of 400, 600 an $750 a week for three years, more to please him than anything else.” Metro wanted Stiller? He never made a single picture there. Knowing his temper, the studio let him play interpreter and assistant director for his find until, engulfed with rage, he settled his contract and fled. Mayer wanted to please Stiller? They hated each other from the day they met – Stiller because he knew Mayer viewed his work with indifference, Mayer because of the coarse indignities Stiller inflicted upon his majesty. As for Garbo’s salary; in 1925, any time an untried actress got more than $300 a week the studio was really yearning for her. And nobody seems to remember how, after her arrival, Mayer kept Garbo in isolation in New York for three months trying unsuccessfully to force her to substitute a new contract for the Berlin agreement which would not hold up in American courts.

Lillian Gish and Greta Garbo - on set for The Wind
Lillian Gish and Greta Garbo – on set for The Wind

Sixteen years were to pass between the public execution of Lillian Gish and the bloodless exile of Greta Garbo. Hollywood producers were left with their babes and a backwash of old men stars, watching the lights go out in one picture house after another across the country.

Sight and Sound (1959-01)(BFI)(GB)-19

Sight and Sound (1959-01)(BFI)(GB) Burton - Bloom

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When Mamaroneck Upstaged Hollywood – By Bruce Berman (The New York Times – June 19, 1977)

When Mamaroneck Upstaged Hollywood

By Bruce Berman

The New York Times – June 19, 1977

BACK in the early 1920’s when Mamaroneck was a center of movie‐making, Joseph Rigano was an employee of D.W. Grif fith’s studio at Orienta. “I was atone mason and mechanic,” the energetic 80year‐old said as we toured on foot Edgewater Point, at the top of the Orienta Peninsula.

Griffith_Studios,_Orienta_Point,_Mamaroneck_NY_1921
Griffith Studios, Orienta Point, Mamaroneck NY 1921

“After the studio was finally built, Mr. Griffith asked me to stay on as a set builder. Stone fireplaces were my specialty, but I worked on everything from Gothic walls to painted desert backdrops. The actors were almost always friendly, and I was getting $55 a week and drove a $1,200 Buick. What more could a young man desire?”

DW Griffith - Mamaroneck NY - Way Down East
DW Griffith filming team – Mamaroneck NY – Way Down East

In those days the area was less the “East Coast Hollywood” than Hollywood was “the West Coast Mamaroneck.” The town boasted a distinction to which few communities could lay claim: a silent‐screen‐era movie studio. The studio built by Mr. Griffith, the most significant American director in pre‐sound films, attracted such stars as Carol Dempster, Richard Barthelmess and Dorothy and Lillian Gish.

Way Down East set filming Mamaroneck Arch
Way Down East set – filming “The Barn Dance”- Mamaroneck Archive

Mr. Griffith himself lived on the studio site in a modest cottage, built in part by Mr. Rigano, and attended to by Japanese couple. Before Mr. Griffith took over the area for the complex, which was completed in 1919, it was part of the huge summer home of Henry Flagler, the railroad and hotel leader. Before finding the site, Mr. Griffith had been looking for an alternative to shooting exteriors on California locations, having long since fled his Biograph Studios on 19th Street in Manhattan. Mamaroneck seemed the perfect alternative.

Dorothy Gish and James Rennie (Dorothy and Lillian Gish by Lillian Gish) - Remodeling Her Husband
Dorothy Gish and James Rennie (Dorothy and Lillian Gish by Lillian Gish) – Remodeling Her Husband

The first movie shot on Edgewater Point, “Remodeling Her Husband,” was not directed by Mr. Griffith but by the young, multi‐talented actress, Lillian Gish. It starred Mae Marsh and Miss Gish’s sister, Dorothy. Mr. Griffith gave the elder of the two Gishes the assignment less to start her on a new career than to “test” the still incomplete facility while he supervised another production in Florida.

Mamaroneck NY Griffith Studios - Orienta Point
Mamaroneck NY Griffith Studios – Orienta Point 1921

In her autobiography, “The Movies, Mr. Griffith, and Me,” Miss Gish remembers the Flagler site as “a great peninsula of land jutting into Long Island Sound, and surrounded by a seawall of rocks and glorious old trees with branches chained together to withstand the sweeping winter winds. When I first worked there, it was late November and we had no heat. The weather turned so cold that we couldn’t photograph our actors without photographing their breaths. It looked as if they were smoking at each other. We hurriedly transferred to a small studio in New Rochelle while a furnace large enough to heat the large studio was installed.”

D.W. Griffith on filming set for Orphans of the Storm

Lillian Gish wearing an “extras” costume, with Joseph Schildkraut (Chevalier de Vaudrey), “Orphans of the Storm”

The Gish sisters and their mother lived in a stone and shingle house, which is still standing, on the corner of Bleeker and Walton Avenues. The house was built in 1889 by Stanford White. “Every room had a fireplace,” Lillian Gish said. “There was a spacious porch and an acre of beautiful landscaping. We loved it. We who had used trolleys for so long now had three cars in the garage—a big Cadillac, Dorothy’s sports roadster, and a small Ford for the staff.”

Mamaroneck filming sets – Orphans of the Storm

About all that remains of the moviemaking complex is a pier where supply boats once tied up, some foundation supports for the studio restaurant, and legacy as rich as anything that came out of the early days of Hollywood. Much of the complex, which was plagued by maintenance costs and poor film grosses after the box‐office smashes “Way Down East” and “Orphans of the Storm,” was razed not long after its completion. Currently, about a dozen homes dot the restricted peninsula.

Mamaroneck filming sets – Way Down East

But despite the disappearance of the Mamaroneck studio, the peninsula still maintains much of its original splendor. Flanked on three sides by the Sound, it is not difficult to imagine a bustling crew of technicians and actors under the leadership of chain‐smoking D.W., shouting directions through his megaphone. Said Mr. Rigano: “In those days we’d get people like Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin visiting. Even Mr. Rockefeller Sr., would come up from the city to see Mr. Griffith at the studio. I’m not fooling when I say Mamaroneck was more exciting than Hollywood back then.”

"Way Down East" - Lillian Gish
“Way Down East” – Lillian Gish and D.W. Griffith on set

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After ‘Life With Father’ Lillian Gish Owns the (Chicago) Town – By Lloyd Lewis (New York Times, 1941)

The New York Times June 1, 1941

LILLIAN GISH, TOAST OF CHICAGO AND THE WEST

After ‘Life With Father’ the Actress Almost Owns the Town

By LLOYD LEWIS – Chicago

Lillian Gish, by virtue of sixty-six weeks in “Life With Father” at Chicago Blackstone Theatre, now takes her place beside the Lunts, Helen Hayes and Katharine Cornell as a truly national star.

She has achieved this position by merely spending well over a year at the crossroads of America, the railroad center, whereas the others have had to tour arduously from Tulsa to Des Moines to Seattle to Atlanta. An amazing number of transcontinental travelers stopped off in Chicago long enough to see this Chicago company of “Life With Father,” and the Pullman people say the show did a lot for midnight bookings.

Life With Father - Lillian Gish
Life With Father – Lillian Gish

But it was by automobile that the great bulk of out-of-towners came to see Miss Gish and the comedy which on May 24 ended its run after setting a new longevity mark for dramas in Chicago. Sedans carrying four or five people arrived constantly from everywhere within a radius of 400 miles. Hitchhikers were found during the year to have come 200 miles just to see the play. One woman in Chicago went thirty-five times. Hundreds are known to have seen it four and five times. What was common was for men to attend during a trip to Chicago and then return some weeks later with their entire families, one of the standard sights in the audiences being that of a father sitting with his home folks and watching, from the corner of his eye, their faces as, on the stage, they saw him satirized, portrayed, “taken off.”

Miss Gish, to the people of the interior, was still a shimmering memory from the silent screen when she arrived in Chicago with the Crouse-Lindsay comedy in the Spring of 1940. She had made brief appearances in spoken dramas during the past decade, but the plays had never been smash hits nor tarried long in the few large cities which they had visited. Her Ophelia opposite John Gielgud had never come West. Most of her stage fame was purely Broadway.

Lillian Gish as Ophelia in Hamlet 1936
Lillian Gish as Ophelia and John Gielgud in Hamlet 1936

But in “Life With Father” she has made herself an entirely new fame in the midlands. The Lily Maid of Astolat is no longer a dream creature in an ivory belfry nor a flower-decked vision on a dark barge. She is now Mrs. Day, mother, wife and housekeeper. Lillian Gish has come from the unreal to the real. She has made people laugh, she has made people adore her for the simplicity and humor as well with the truly great charm with which she has worn the manners and costumes of the past century. She has identified herself with a character, a scene and a play wholly American, wholly practical and realistic so far as atmosphere is concerned.

Life with f lill 58