The Winnipeg Tribune – Cavalcade of The Screen (By Erskine Johnson – 1943)

Hollywood Today – The Winnipeg Tribune 1943

Lillian Gish Writes Cavalcade Of Screen

TOP MAN, Susanna Foster, Lillian Gish, 1943
TOP MAN, Susanna Foster, Lillian Gish, 1943

Hollywood – After 30 years, Hollywood again is interested in the screen’s first great star Lillian Gish. But she still hasn’t been able to interest Hollywood in Mr. Hollywood. To Lillian Gish and a lot of other people, Mr. Hollywood is D.W. Griffith, the producer and director of “The Birth of a Nation,” “Intolerance,””Broken Blossoms,”and “Hearts of the World,” films that made the name of Gish and Hollywood household words throughout the world.

DW Griffith in 1943
DW Griffith in 1943

Under the title, Silver Glory, and with the help of author Myron Brinig, Miss Gish has written the story of D.W. Griffith, which as she says, is the story of Hollywood.

“It’s a better story by George M. Cohan’s,” she says. “A cavalcade of the screen with a terrific nostalgic appeal.”

For three years Lillian says she has been trying to interest Hollywood in the story, in which she would play herself.

“Producers tell me, ‘Yes, Lillian, it IS a great story. Maybe some day –‘ And then nothing happens. I talked to Myron Selznick (the film agent) about it once. He said it was a great story, too. Then his brother, David, produced “A Star is Born.” I sent them a kidding telegram about using my idea and their attorneys replied in a three-page letter, saying there was no similarity. I guess there wasn’t.

Lillian says she talked to Louis B. Mayer about it once, too.

“’It IS a great story,’ he said, and then he thanked me for startling him. He said he was a small town exhibitor when The Birth of a Nation was released. He knew the picture was a hit. So he pawned his wife wedding ring and mortgaged an insurance policy to buy the picture for his theatre. The film made him a small fortune.

d-w-griffith-director-of-the-birth-of-a-nation-1915

“Now I hear Mr. Mayer is about to glorify motion pictures in a film called “The First Fifty Years.” But they tell me it isn’t the story of Mr. Griffith.”

And not until Hollywood does film the story of Griffith, says Lillian, will Hollywood capture the real, romantic story of motion pictures. A Star is Born and Hollywood Cavalcade both failed she says.

A Star is Born 1937 - Selznick

At 47, Lillian Gish looks so young the Universal Studio makeup department had to pencil lines on her face as Donald O’Connor’s mother in Man of The Family***

It was a combination of her work on the stage in Life With Father and the war which brought Lillian back to the town where she reigned for 15 years as the first lady of the screen. Life made Hollywood “Gish-concious” again. The war stopped her from making annual trips to Europe between seasons on the Broadway stage, where she’s been ever since she quit the screen.

“Some people said I didn’t have the voice for talkies. I still have the same voice. Now they say it’s good. Which proves I was right, Voice recording – not the voices – were bad in those days.

one romantic night, lillian gish, rod la rocque, 1930 everett collection inc

Back in Hollywood, where she started 30 years ago, Lillian Gish still remains the only woman who ever wrote, directed, produced and cut a motion picture. The film was Remodeling Her Husband, starring sister Dorothy, in 1921. It cost $58.000, and earned $300.000. In fact, Lillian cut most of her own pictures.

Lillian-Gish-8X10-Studio-DIrector-Remodeling-Her-Husband-BB

She’s slated to play several other screen roles soon. But most of all, Lillian Gish wants to play Lillian Gish in the story of Hollywood as seen through D.W. Griffith’s eyes.

“And some day,” she says, “it will be filmed.”

By Erskine Johnson

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The Winnipeg Tribune - Cavalcade of Screen Lillian Gish 08-17-1943 B
The Winnipeg Tribune – Cavalcade of Screen Lillian Gish 08-17-1943 B
The Winnipeg Tribune - Cavalcade of Screen Lillian Gish 08-17-1943 C
The Winnipeg Tribune – Cavalcade of Screen Lillian Gish 08-17-1943

Back to Lillian Gish Home page