THE GREAT LOVE (Paramount-Artcraft, 1918) Selected Film Criticism

Selected Film Criticism

THE GREAT LOVE (Paramount-Artcraft, 1918)

Frederick James Smith in Motion Picture Classic, Vol. 7, No. 2 (October 1918), page 77

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

P. S.–We’ve just caught David Griffith’s latest, The Great Love. Griffith credits a British army captain as the author, just as he named M. Gaston de Tolignac as the creator of Hearts of the World. But, in both cases, we suspect Griffith’s own hand in the writing. Jim Young, an American, goes to England in 1914 and enlists on the side of democracy at the start of the great war. Jim meets and comes to love a young Australian girl living near the big training camp. But a youthful tiff and a sudden shift of Jim’s regiment to the front, cause the sweetheart to waver and finally marry a titled Englishman, who is not only a rake, with a cast-off favorite and the inevitable baby waiting on his doorstep, but a traitor as well.

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

But she never really becomes his wife and, when hubby commits suicide on facing exposure, she tumbles into Jim’s khaki arms. No, it isn’t much of a story. It is ahead of the average feature in handling but it isn’t anything to add to the Griffith laurels. The director is at his best in the idyllic early love scenes between Jim and Sue, at his worst in trying to achieve a height of suspense in the Zeppelin invasion of England. Here Jim upsets the Hun signals and causes the aircraft to blow up an empty field instead of Britain’s biggest munition storehouse. This is entirely too long drawn out.

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

The Great Love is merely a modern story of the war told in the terms of the old Biograph melodrama. Lillian Gish overdoes the kittenish tricks of Sue but she has several really poignant moments. Robert Harron is — Robert Harron, while Henry Walthall makes the very villainous villain at least subtle. But Walthall isn’t at his best here.

–Frederick James Smith in Motion Picture Classic, Vol. 7, No. 2 (October 1918), page 77.

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