~Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans~
1927
~Autrey Portrait of Janet Gaynor~
Considered by many to be the finest silent film ever made by a Hollywood studio, F.W. MURNAU's
Sunrise represents the art of the wordless cinema at its zenith. Based on the Hermann Sudermann
novel A Trip to Tilsit, this "Song of Two Humans" takes place in a colorful farming community, where
people from the city regularly take their weekend holidays. Local farmer George O'Brien, happily
married to Janet Gaynor, falls under the seductive spell of Margaret Livingston, a temptress from
The City. He callously ignores his wife and child and strips his farm of its wealth on behalf of
Livingston, but even this fails to satisfy her. One foggy evening, O'Brien meets Livingston at their
usual swampland trysting place. She bewitches him with stories about the city -- its jazz, its bright
lights, its erotic excitement. Thrilled at the prospect of running off with Livingston, O'Brien stops
short: "What about my wife?" Drawing ever closer to her victim, Livingston murmurs "Couldn't she
just...drown?" (the subtitle bearing these words then "melts" into nothingness). In his delirium, the
husband agrees. The plan is to row Gaynor to the middle of the lake, then capsize the boat. Gaynor
will drown, while O'Brien will save himself with some bulrushes that he'd previously hidden in the
boat; thus, the murder will look like an accident. The next day, the brooding O'Brien begins slowly
rowing his unsuspecting wife across the lake. Halfway to shore, he makes his intentions clear, but is
unable to go through with it. As his wife cringes in terror, O'Brien rows to the other side of lake. Once
ashore, she runs away from him in terror, as he stumbles after her, trying to apologize. Gaynor
boards a streetcar bound for the city, with O'Brien climbing aboard a few seconds afterward. Upon
reaching the city (a renowned set design), O'Brien continues trying to make amends to his wife. They
sit disconsolately at a table in a restaurant, unable to eat the plate of cake that is set before them.
Slowly, Gaynor begins overcoming her fear. The couple wander into a church, where a wedding is
taking place. Breaking down in sobs, O'Brien begins repeating the wedding vows, thereby convincing
Gaynor that she has nothing to fear. Together again, the couple embraces in the middle of a busy
street, oblivious to the honking horns and irate motorists. Anxious to prove to each other that all is
well, the husband and wife spend a delightful afternoon having their pictures taken and "dolling up"
in a posh barber shop. They cap their unofficial second honeymoon at a joyous festival in an outsized
amusement park. More in love with each other than ever before, O'Brien and Gaynor head back
across the lake in the dark of night. Suddenly, a storm arises. Pulling out the bulrushes with which
he'd planned to save himself, O'Brien straps them onto Janet, telling her to swim to shore. The storm
passes. Washing up on shore, the unconscious O'Brien is brought home. But Gaynor is nowhere to be
found, and it is assumed that she has died in the storm. Half-insane, O'Brien strikes out at
Livingston, the instigator of the murder plan. Just as he is about to throttle the treacherous
temptress, he is summoned home; his wife is alive! As Livingston stumbles out of the village, O'Brien
and Gaynor cling tightly to one another, watching the sun rise above their now-happy home.
Together with Seventh Heaven, Sunrise earned Janet Gaynor the first-ever Best Actress Academy
Award, while Charles Rosher and Karl Struss walked home with the industry's first Best Photography
Oscar. The film itself was also in the Oscar race, but lost out to the more financially successful Wings.

Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson, AllMovie.com
Directed by: F.W. Murnau

Written by: Hermann Sudermann & Carl Mayer
~Cast~

George O'Brien ...  The Man
Janet Gaynor ...  The Wife
Margaret Livingston ...  The Woman From the City
Bodil Rosing ...  The Maid
J. Farrell MacDonald ...  The Photographer
Ralph Sipperly ...  The Barber
Jane Winton ...  The Manicure Girl
Arthur Housman ...  The Obtrusive Gentleman
Eddie Boland ...  The Obliging Gentleman
Sidney Bracey ...  Dance Hall Manager (uncredited)
Gino Corrado ...  Manager of Hair Salon (uncredited)
Sally Eilers ...  Woman in Dance Hall (uncredited)
Gibson Gowland ...  Angry Driver (uncredited)
Fletcher Henderson ...  Performer - Song: 'Tozo' (uncredited)
Bob Kortman ...  Undetermined Role (uncredited)
Barry Norton ...  Dancer (uncredited)
Harry Semels ...  Undetermined Role (uncredited)
Phillips Smalley ...  Head Waiter (uncredited)
Clarence Wilson ...  Money Lender (uncredited)
Sally Phipps ... Ballroom dancer/kissing couple
~George O'Brien and Janet Gaynor~
.
~Remaining Credits~

Produced & Released by: Fox Film Corporaton

Produced by: William Fox
Music by: R.H. Bassett &
Carli Elinor
Cinematography by: Charles Rosher & Karl Struss
Film Editing by: Harold D. Schuster
Art Direction by: Rochus Gliese
Makeup Artist: Charles Dudley
Assistant Director: Herman Bing
Property Master: Don B. Greenwood
Assistant Art Directors: Alfred Metscher & Edgar G. Ulmer
Art Department Head: Gordon Wiles
Special Effects: Frank D. Williams
Still Photographers: Max Munn Autrey & Frank Powolny
Assistant Cameras: Hal Carney & Stuart Thompson
Orchestration: Maurice Baron
Presenter: William Fox

Length: 9 Reels
Runtime: 94 Minutes
Released: November 4, 1927

Filmed on location at:
Big Bear Lake, Big Bear Valley, San Bernardino National Forest, California, USA
Mexico
Columbia River, Oregon, USA
Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino National Forest, California, USA

Filmed in studios:
William Fox Studios - 1401 N. Western Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California,
USA
Westwood, Los Angeles, California, USA
~Plot Synopsis~