WAY DOWN EAST
starring Lillian Gish and Richard Barthelmess
MOTION PICTURE MAGAZINE
The last month has brought to the silversheet the latest endeavor of that standard-bearer of cinema artistry D.W. Griffith, in that it has witnessed the premiere of "Way Down East" which Mr. Griffith himself describes as "a simple story of plain people."
The "Way Down East" of the screen is an elaboration of the "Way Down East" which has played on the stage for years in that the heroine, little Anna Moore, goes to the city to visit her wealthy relatives, and it is while there that she becomes the innocent bride of a mock marriage.
The remainder of the story tells of her learning of the falsity of her marriage as she is about to become a mother. When her baby dies she seeks work in an adjoining village where she soon comes to love the son of the house, David Bartlett. He returns her affection, but, always thinking of the mark which the past has left upon her, she will not marry him.
News of her motherhood comes to the household where she is employed and, the puritanical instincts of the New Englanders rampant, she is turned out into the storm and the height. David follows, but in the blinding blizzard he is unable to overtake her before she reaches the ice-caked river where she sinks exhausted. When the ice jam breaks, he sees her rapidly floating towards the falls and rescues her at the risk of his own life as the ice cake upon which she lies prostrated is about to precipitate down the icy waterfall. With all of her story known, the past is forgotten and the picture leaves Anna and David entering the state of matrimony.
This story is one of the strongest arguments in favor of melodrama that the screen has ever witnessed, for the drama is, in no instance, permitted to submerge the human note, and it is well interspersed with light comedy touches.
As always in a production created under the direction of Mr. Griffith, that which is unpleasant is sketched in pastel tones; never flagrant, never obtruding but always effective.
Too, the photography makes the offering a series of exquisite pictures which are in several instances beautifully tinted.
The cast, which includes Richard Barthlemess, Mary Hay, Creighton Hale, Lowell Sherman, Burr McIntosh, Kate Bruce and other capable players, is well chosen, but to Lillian Gish goes the major portion of the honors. She is a new Lillian, offering a portrayal which will stand foremost among the characterizations of the screen. As little Anna Moore she finds a wide range for her emotions, playing every scene in the right key, at the right tempo. She is, undoubtably, a great artist.
The producers are quite right when they term this latest brain-child
of the great Griffith an epic.
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