best film: Intolerance is a giant masterpiece that has influenced everyone from Von Stroheim to David Lean and Christopher Nolan. Gish doesn’t have a big part in it (she plays the handle that rocks the cradle so to speak—eternal mother (or grandmother). As much as it’s derided for the outrageously wrong and racist content—Birth of a Nation is a masterpiece so that’s a candidate here though I think it’s definitely Intolerance that’s the stronger film.  Night of the Hunter is also a great choice and would be the best film for many great actors.

best performance:  The Wind and it’s no landslide. She’s outstanding in 1-6 below here which all come from 1915-1928 before sound (as I said above she’s not given much at all to do in Intolerance). Birth is still more of an ensemble but in The Wind she’s the entire film (along with superb direction by Victor Sjöström (star of Wild Strawberries) and the special effects). Gish is a veteran by the time The Wind comes around at the tail-end of the sound era and she’s in complete control of her powers—a tour de force.

stylistic innovations/traits: Griffith made the close-up an art-form and canvas of choice was the face of Lillian Gish. She’s sublime in their efforts together garnering instant sympathy from the audience (often playing the victim). She was the first great actor and dominated for a period of 12-13 years before the sound era.

directors worked with:  Griffith (5) and these are his seminal films and roles—extremely important in the history of film. King Vidor (2)

Top 10 Performances:

  1. The Wind
  2. The Birth of a Nation
  3. Broken Blossoms
  4. Way Down East
  5. Orphans of the Storm
  6. La Boheme
  7. Duel in the Sun
  8. Night of the Hunter
  9. Intolerance
  10. Portrait of Jennie

Archiveable films

1915- The Birth of a Nation
1916- Intolerance
1919- Broken Blossoms
1920- Way Down East
1921- Orphans of the Storm
1926- La Boheme
1928- The Wind
1946- Duel in the Sun
1948- Portrait of Jennie
1955- Night of the Hunter