The Griffith Studio Family Is Breaking Up (Motion Picture Classic – 1920)

The Griffith Studio Family Is Breaking Up …

Gossip of the Eastern Studios

Motion Picture Classic – September 1920

“The Griffith studio family seems to be breaking up,” began the Gossip, as he leaned back in his porch chair and studied the summer moon; “Lillian Gish is to be starred by the Frohman Amusement Corporation at $4,500 a week. Bobbie Harron is already at work upon his first star production, to be released thru Metro, and Dick Barthelmess becomes a star, too, as soon as he finishes work in ‘Way Down East.'”

"Way Down East" - Lillian Gish
“Way Down East” – Lillian Gish (rescued) and all cast except Lowell Sherman (Lennox Sanderson)

“That always comes with development and progress,” sighed the Philosopher, studying the glow of his cigar. “Of course, they will all keep on working under the Griffith eye, making their pictures at the Mamaroneck studios, but the old ensemble will be gone,” went on the Gossip. “Harron is now working with Chet Withey as director.

Mary Hay 1920
Mary Hay 1920 (Way Down East)

Meanwhile, Griffith seems to have a find in little Mary Hay, who succeeded to poor ‘Cutie Beautiful’s role in ‘Way Down East.’ Miss Hay was in the Ziegfeld Midnight Frolic, but she has given up that work to devote her entire time to the films. They do say, you know, that Miss Hay and Barthelmess are to be married in the autumn.”

Portrait of Mary Hay and Richard Barthelmess by Edward Steichen
Portrait of Mary Hay and Richard Barthelmess by Edward Steichen

The Philosopher smiled. “Griffith is hard at work on ‘ ‘Way Down East,’ ” rambled on the Gossip. “It is said that it will cost him around $750,000 before he finishes. Only the other day he used his biggest set since the Babylonian scenes of ‘Intolerance.’ It was a huge reproduction of a smart ballroom. And he has two almost complete villages built, one on Long Island and the other on the Mamaroneck property.

Way Down East – Mamaroneck filming sets

They tell me that Creighton Hale plays a comedy character in ‘ ‘Way Down East’ and that he is going to make a big hit.”

“Players take surprising turns under Griffith’s direction,” remarked the Philosopher. “Griffith has just bought back the production originally called ‘Black Beach’ from First National for $400,000,” the Gossip went on. “They say he is going to use it as part of his repertoire at a New York theater in the fall. It will be called ‘Tlie Gamest Girl.’ They say that Carol Dempster makes a remarkable hit in it, so great that members of the First National call her the biggest find in five years.”

Eastern screen interests now seem to center in David Wark Griffith’s forthcoming film repertoire season at a New York playhouse to be named later. Mr. Griffith’s seasons are now annual events—and things to be looked forward to. Recall that his last season at Cohan’s Theater produced “Broken Blossoms.”

Cohan Theatre Broadway-Times-Square-at-night-1911
Cohan Theatre Broadway-Times-Square-at-night-1911

This year Mr. Griffith will start, some time late in August probably, with ” ‘Way Down East,” which he has been shooting since before last Christmas. The total footage ran to between 600,000 and 700,000 feet, and, at this writing, the cutting has brought it down to 26,000 feet, or 26 reels. As the production will, it is expected, be released in eight reels. Mr. Griffith still has quite a task ahead of him. Prominent in the cast are Lillian Gish, Dick Barthelmess, Mary Hay, Creighton Hale, Burr Mcintosh, Kate Bruce and others of prominence.

Photo: Behind the Scenes – Way Down East

Another feature of Mr. Griffith’s repertoire season will be “The Love Flower,” originally produced as “Black Beach” and the production which the director bought back from First National to elaborate and enlarge. Carol Dempster has the leading rule. Bobbie Harron is doing nicely with his individual productions, made at the Griffith Mamaroneck studios and which are to be released thru Metro. The first of the star series is “Coincidence,” directed by Chet Withey. June Walker, who scored last season on the stage in “My Lady Friends,” with the late Clifton Crawford, is leading woman.

Betty Compson
Betty Compson

Film fans will be interested to know that Betty Compson’s new pictures, beginning with “Prisoners of Love,” will be released thru Goldwyn channels. Miss Compson is the young actress who scored so sensationally in “The Miracle Man.”

Lillian Gish (film director) 2 - Remodeling Her Husband
Lillian Gish (film director) 2 – Remodeling Her Husband

After observing Dorothy Gish’s “Remodeling Her Husband,” (Paramount), we are confident that Lillian Gish could easily develop into a director of fine originality. This is the little comedy drama in which Miss Lillian directed her sister last winter.

It is the old, old opus of the bride who sets out to cure her hubby of his flirtatious tendencies. Of course, as soon as he feels that he is losing his wife, he repents—and things end in a reconciliation. There are dozens of touches in which one can recognize the delicate and gently lyric hand of Lillian Gish, such as the delicious moment where Dorothy, as the angry Jane Wakefield, hurries thru the park and demonstrates how she can attract masculine attention.

Dorothy Gish lends her inimitable humor to the proceedings, but Lillian is the real star, even if she does not once appear on the silversheet.

Lillian Gish (film director) 3 - Remodeling Her Husband
Lillian Gish (film director) 3 – Remodeling Her Husband

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