Yes, the hug-me-tight is not exactly popular these days but they were everywhere 100+ years ago. And, no, they aren’t bizarre and villainous contraptions invented by Dr. Seuss. (That would be a lock-me-tight.)
This time, we are going to be looking at trivia from a very famous film, Way Down East. Most of us know the story already. D.W. Griffith paid out an enormous sum for the movie rights to one of the corniest plays ever to show its face on the stage. The gamble paid off and the resulting film was a blockbuster and included the now-iconic scene of Lillian Gish on the ice floes.
(You can read my review here.)
Way Down East continues to be one of Griffith’s most popular films. It was also the last time he enjoyed outrageous success. While there were still hits, his days as King of the Movie Directors were numbered.
Oh, by the way, according to this handy inflation calculator, Griffith spend the equivalent of $2.2 million dollars in 2014 money. Wow. That is a hefty sum.
Availability: Way Down East is available on DVD, Blu-ray and via streaming. I like the Kino release, available on DVD and Blu-ray, which avoids using the very annoying and highly-Mickey Moused sound reissue score. Instead, we get a very nice score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.
Director D.W. Griffith took a creaky melodrama and… kept it creaky! Lillian Gish is used and tossed aside by a rich creep. She stumbles onto Richard Barthelmess’s farm, where the whole family embraces her with open arms. Then said rich creep shows up. Works surprisingly well thanks to great work from Gish and Barthelmess, as well as one of Griffth’s very best Races to the Rescue™… On Ice! (On tour this winter!)
Director D.W. Griffith dives back into country melodrama with this adaptation of a hoary stage smash. Lillian Gish plays Anna, a country girl seduced and abandoned by a rich cad. The resulting baby dies and Anna is alone in the world. She meets the kindly Bartlett family and it seems that her life is taking a turn for the better… that is until her past is exposed.