The Greatest Thing in Life – By Mae Tinee (Chicago Tribune – 1918)

Chicago Tribune – Monday November 25, 1918 Page 18

Poignant Story of the War with High Lights of Humor

The Greatest Thing in Life

Produced by D.W. Griffith

Directed by D.W. Griffith


Lillian Gish, Robert Harron, George Fawcett, Kate Bruce and Lydia Yeamans Titus

By Mae Tinee

Perhaps the greatest thing in life is life itself. Perhaps the greatest thing in life is love, but I imagine Mr. Griffith would teach us that after all we have only learned to live when we recognize the fact all men are brothers. To teach his lesson he uses the great war as the leveler.

Lillian Gish - The Greatest Thing in Life
Lillian Gish – The Greatest Thing in Life

Have you read “The Magnificent Ambersons?” In the beginning Mr. Harron is just another insufferable, supercilious, conceited youth as the George of the story. Strangely enough, he falls in love with the little daughter of a French tobacconist, to whom he confides:

“I hate everybody but myself and you and me.”

The French father is an invalid and is besides, suffering from homesickness for his native France. He would go home, only there are no funds for such a journey. The eccentric young lover sends the girl $1,000 anonymously and father and daughter go to France. Thither the unhappy lover follows them. He finds there that the object of his admiration is getting along beautifully without him and permitting the attentions of a young truck gardener, who smells most terribly of garlic.

Lillian Gish - The Greatest Thing in Life
The Greatest Thing in Life

Then the great war breaks out and Mr. Griffith weaves a poignant and tender story, high-lighted with humor and softened by touches of the most human sort of pathos. He does these things so well!

And I am converted to Lillian Gish – in this picture at least. She is delightful. The supporting cast is expert. The picture is masterly in production.

While there’s plenty of war atmosphere in the picture, we need what there is – and more, lest we forget in the ecstasy of peace what, until only a few short days ago, our boys were suffering for us “over there.”

motion picture lobby card for the greatest thing in life cve detail2 (library of congress)

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