starring Richard Barthelmess and Carol Dempster
February, 1920

The editor of this periodical - God bless him! - differs with me in our view of D.W.'s vivid story of California in '49. He thinks that Mr. Griffith stressed his earthly sentiments in entirely too vivid a fashion; I don't. I think "Scarlet Days" is a triumph of realism which is still within the bounds of decorum. Maybe you differ with both of us. At any rate, the piece has some splendid points and some perfectly gorgeous characterizations. Basically, it is a trivial Western melo which hasn't even vitality enough to sustain its original intention. The hero is lost, and at the end somebody else turns out to be the hero. As usual in a Griffith enterprise, it is not the yarn itself, but the humanity and reality which invest it, that makes the whole worthwhile. I think the great characterization of the month through the whole range of motion pictures is Eugenie Besserer's "Rosy Nell." This wanton mother, aging in her iniquity, yet with a mother's pride, a mother's heart, a mother's sense of the sacredness of her trust -- somehow -- seems to me a being at once gigantic and grotesque. There is something colossal, something vastly tragic, in her merry conduct of the cabin -- where her daughter does not know that she is her daughter, and the mother herself plays housewife with the clutch of the hangman's noose already about her neck. Of course the picturesque little Seymour, in her adorable descriptions of Chiquita, the hot-tamale vampire of intense ardor and no soap, runs way with most of the laughter and enthusiasm. Dick Barthelmess is less of a success as a Spanish bandit -- and much more of a success as Dick Barthelmess. George Fawcett provides an inimitable flash of himself as an entirely too-humane Sheriff, Carol Dempster and Ralph Graves wear the conventional last-garb honors with their customary charm, and there is the usual gallery of striking portraits, from saturnine to comic, which the Head Master always provides.

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