“THE GREAT LOVE” (D. W. Griffith) 1918

“THE GREAT LOVE” (D. W. Griffith)

The Great Love is a 1918 American silent war drama film directed and written by D. W. Griffith who, along with scenario writer Stanner E.V. Taylor, is credited as “Captain Victor Marier”. The film stars George Fawcett and Lillian Gish. Set during World War I, exterior scenes were shot on location in England. The Great Love is now considered to be a lost film.

  • George Fawcett as The Rev. Josephus Broadplains
  • Lillian Gish as Susie Broadplains
  • Robert Harron as Jim Young
  • Gloria Hope as Jessie Lovewell
  • George Siegmann as Mr. Seymour
  • Maxfield Stanley as John Broadplains
  • Rosemary Theby as Miss Corintee
  • Henry B. Walthall as Sir Roger Brighton


The Great Love, Lillian Gish and Henry Walthall
The Great Love, Lillian Gish and Henry Walthall


“THE GREAT LOVE” (D. W. Griffith)

Motion Picture Magazine September 1918

Across the Silversheet

Lillian Gish - The Great Love (1918)
Lillian Gish – The Great Love (1918)

Leading Screen-plays of the Month


D.W. GRIFFITH’S second picture dealing with the present war is an interesting example of what treatment can do to theme. Briefly, the story is that of a young English girl who falls in love with a young soldier. The quarrel, he departs for the front and she marries—the villain, a baron. Then enter German spies, who inveigle the baron to run his motor with lights ablaze thru the London streets to guide the German planes to the Allied ammunition storehouse. The young soldier, now at home wounded, intercepts the baron before his wanton deed is accomplished, whereupon the baron promptly kills himself and the soldier-boy and the girl are happily reunited. So you see the vital quality of the picture is not especially apparent in the story. It is only in the seeming reality of the London air raid and in the suspense with which the midnight ride and the Zeppelin attack is invested that Griffith has made this into an unusually thrilling melodrama.

DW Griffith shooting a scene from The Great Love 1918
DW Griffith shooting a scene from The Great Love 1918

It is of course not comparable. to “Hearts of the World,” but is exactly what it was intended to be, a good feature melodrama. Robert Harron runs away with stellar honors. His interpretation of the carefree soldier-boy is delightfully peppy, realistic and human. Lillian Gish is allowed to quite. overplay the ingenue role, as also is Henry Walthall that of the” villain, while Rosemary The by returns with her vivid personality imprisoned in vampire garb.

The Great Love (Artcraft, 1918) Lillian Gish Robert Harron - Artcraft Poster
The Great Love (Artcraft, 1918) Lillian Gish Robert Harron – Artcraft Poster


THE GREAT LOVE  (Iris Barry)

  • Opened at the Strand, New York, August n, 1918. 7 reels.
    Scenario by Capt. Victor Marier (D. W. Griffith and S. E. V. Taylor) .
  • Cast :
    Jim Young, of Youngstown, Pa. Robert Harron
    Sir Roger Brighton Henry B. Walthall
    Jessie Lovewell Gloria Hope
    Susie Broadplains Lillian Gish
    John Broadplains Maxfield Stanley
    Rev. Josephus Broadplains George Eawcetl
    Mademoiselle Corintee Rosemary Theby
    Mr. Seymour of Brazil, formerly of Berlin George Seigmann
    and Queen Alexandra , Lady Diana Manners . Miss Elizabeth Asquith,
    and the Princess of Monaco as themselves.

Billed as “D. W. Griffith’s second great European photo play,” the great love dealt with the adventures of a young American who is fired up by the German atrocities in Belgium and enlists in the British army before America’s entry into the war. In London he meets and falls in love with an innocent young Australian girl who, as an heiress, is pursued by an unscrupulous fortune hunter. The youthful love affair is interrupted by the war, and “the machinations of German adventurers masquerading as radicals.” The film made use of scenes Griffith had taken in England showing real society debutantes who are transformed from social butterflies into war workers in hospitals and factories. Griffith himself made an appearance a la Hitchcock as a passerby in the streets. No prints of the great love are known to exist today.

When Griffith returned to Los Angeles from the opening of hearts of the world he began directing his own Artcraft films. While he retained ownership of hearts, the other films he made went to Paramount under the separation agreement at the end of the contract with Zukor. Because of the deterioration of the original negatives that were placed in Paramount’s vaults, only two of these films are known to exist today. (Iris Barry)

D. W. Griffith, American film master
With an annotated list of films by Eileen Bowser


The Great Love 1918 - Original Film Poster
The Great Love 1918 – Original Film Poster

(Leatrice Joy recalled a scene in one of the World War I films Lillian Gish made for D. W. Griffith in 1918 and how it influenced her years later in the 1920s.) Lillian was saying farewell to her sweetheart, who was Bobby Harron . . . She was in such pain saying farewell to this fellow she loved so dearly that her expression was almost heavenly. . . .she wobbled her lip a little bit. I’d never seen any expression like that. It was so–oh, it was so heartbreaking. I put it in my little memory and I said, “Someday, I’ll use that.”

  It must have been at least ten years later that I was in a similar scene saying farewell to my soldier sweetheart. When I got to the heartbreaking part, I wobbled my lip and Mr. DeMille yelled, “Cut! Lights! Cameras!” He walked over to me and said, “Miss Joy, will you please stop trying to be Lillian Gish?” I was so embarrassed I almost died. From then on, I thought the best thing I could do was to create my own technique.

  • From the interview with Leatrice Joy in “Speaking of Silents: First Ladies of the Screen” by William M. Drew, Vestal Press, 1989 (page 63):

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