A Vintage Ode to Dorothy Gish’s Temper

I love Dorothy Gish and think she is immensely underrated in the pantheon of screen comedians. Alas, most of her solo pictures are missing and presumed lost, so its hard for modern viewers to appreciate the scope of her career but she was quite a beloved player in her own series of top-billed pictures that covered just about every popular genre in American cinema at the time.

A 1920 issue of Picture Show decided to pay homage to Gish’s fiery screen persona and we get a few glimpses of some lost pictures, so let’s enjoy the spread!

The title is a typo and should read Peppy Polly. A shame the picture is missing and presumed lost because it sounds BONKERS. It’s a social justice picture with Gish playing a Nellie Bly-like reporter who goes undercover in an abusive reformatory but, in a twist worthy of Face/Off, the only person who knows her identity dies and she’s stuck on the inside. As the icing on the cake, Richard Barthelmess is her love interest. I want to see this!

Nugget Nell features Dorothy as a hash house proprietress in a mining town. Sounds like a rambunctious western spoof and I would love to see one of those with a lady in the lead but, you guessed it, lost.

Out of Luck was the working title for Nobody Home, which sounds like an absolute scream. Dorothy plays an heiress completely crippled by superstition. It’s a very Fairbanksian plot but was actually released a bit before When the Clouds Roll By. Alas, we can’t compare Dorothy with Douglas because, you guessed it, lost.

The Peril Within was given the more bigoted title of The Hun Within and seems to have been a pretty typical WWI propaganda picture with Dorothy in love with both a German spy and a Secret Service agent. And this one survives.

I reviewed Dorothy Gish in Gretchen the Greenhorn, if you want another example of one of her surviving pictures of the 1910s. And it was made a bit later but Nell Gwynn is on DVD.

You can look up lots of swell clippings like these at the Media History Digital Library.

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4 Replies to “A Vintage Ode to Dorothy Gish’s Temper”

  1. Thank you for giving Dorothy some love (and letting me know Nell Gwyn is on DVD). She’s one of my favourites and so engaging on screen. While the odds are against it I do hope a treasure trove of her films reappears in some archive, abandoned swimming pool or long forgotten private collection.

  2. I love when women do physical comedy, and prefer Dorothy Gish, and Constance Talmadge over their more dramatic sisters.I think it’s harder, in general, to do good comedy than good drama.

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