~Way Down East~
1920
~Lillian Gish~
~?, ?, Richard Barthelmess, Lillian Gish, ?, Lowell Sherman~
~Plot Synopsis~
"I'm not a bad businessman", filmmaker D.W. Griffith once protested, "Honestly I'm not!" Yet
industryites were certain that Griffith had taken leave of his financial senses when he paid $175,000 for
the screen rights to the old Lottie Blair Parker stage play Way Down East. Considered out of date even
in 1920, the play told the story of Anna (Lillian Gish), the efficient yet secretive serving girl for a large
farm family. Anna falls in love with David Bartlett (Richard Barthelmess), the family's son, but feels
unworthy of him due to her checkered past. It seems that, years earlier, Anna had been duped into a
sham marriage by city slicker Lenox Sanderson (Lowell Sherman). When she became pregnant,
Sandson walked out on her. Shortly afterwards, her newborn child died, and Anna was shunned by her
home community. These facts come to surface when Sanderson returns to Anna's life as the local
squire. David's prudish father orders Anna out of the house and into a blinding snowstorm, but David,
after settling accounts with the duplicitous Sanderson, goes after Anna and claims her as his bride. In
adapting Way Down East for the screen, Griffith fleshes out the characters of Anna and Sanderson by
adding a prologue, which included one of those poignant scenes ever filmed: Anna's tearful insistence
that her dying baby be baptized. He also injected the weary old property with a jolt of sheer
showmanship, added a "last minute rescue" sequences wherein Anna, lying exhausted on an ice floe, is
rescued by David seconds before plunging over a precipitous waterfall. Even today's audiences, armed
with the foreknowledge that Lillian Gish enjoyed 73 hale and hearty years after the completion of Way
Down East, invariably gasp in fright and urge Richard Barthelmess to "hurry! hurry!" during the
climactic scene. Far from becoming Griffith's Folly as predicted, Way Down East was a huge
moneymaker. There is no better of Griffith's artistry than the fact that the 1930 talkie remake of Way
Down East, though directed by the formidable Henry King, failed to match the pathos and power of the
1920 version.

Plot Synopsis from allmovie.com
Directed by: D.W. Griffith

Written by:
William A. Brady - play
D.W. Griffith - uncredited
Anthony Paul Kelly - scenario

Based on the play Way Down East by Lottie Blair Parker as elaborated by
Joseph R. Grismer (New York, 14 Dec 1903).
~Cast~

Lillian Gish ...  Anna Moore
Richard Barthelmess ...  David Bartlett
Lowell Sherman ...  Lennox Sanderson
Burr McIntosh ...  Squire Bartlett
Kate Bruce ...  Mother Bartlett
Mary Hay ...  Kate (the Squire's niece)
Creighton Hale ...  The Professor
Emily Fitzroy ...  Maria Poole (landlady)
Porter Strong ...  Seth Holcomb
George Neville ...  The Constable
Edgar Nelson ...  Hi Holler
Mrs. Morgan Belmont ...  Diana Tremont (uncredited)
Josephine Bernard ...  Mrs. Tremont (uncredited)
Carol Dempster ...  Barn dancer (uncredited)
Patricia Fruen ...  Her sister (uncredited)
Mrs. David Landau ...  Anna Moore's mother (uncredited)
Vivia Ogden ...  Martha Perkins (uncredited)
Athole Shearer ...  Barn dancer (uncredited)
Edith Shearer ...  Barn dancer (uncredited)
Norma Shearer ...  Barn dancer (uncredited)
Florence Short ...  The eccentric aunt (uncredited)
Frank Walsh ...  Barn dancer (uncredited)
~Remaining Credits~

Produced by: D.W. Griffith Productions

Distributed by: United Artists

Produced by: D. W. Griffith
Original Music by: Louis Silvers & William Frederick Peters
Cinematography by: G.W. Bitzer, Charles Downs  & Hendrik Sartov
Film Editing by: James Smith & Rose Smith
Art Direction by: Clifford Pember & Charles O. Seessel
Costume Design by: Henri Bendel, O'Kane Cornwell, Lady Duff Gordon  & Otto Kahn
Second Unit Director: Elmer Clifton
Assitant Directors: Herbert Sutch ....  assistant director & Frank Walsh
Stunts by: Elmer Clifton & Allan Law
Camera Operator: Paul H. Allen
Associate Director: Elmer Clifton
Photo Doubles: Elmer Clifton & Katherine Johnston
Decorative Titles: Victor Georg
Lillian Gish Stand-In:
Una Merkel
Production Assistant: Leigh Smith
Technical Director: Frank Wortman

Length: 13 Reels
Runtime: 165 Minutes
Released: September 3, 1920
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~UI-405 Film Scene~
~UI-415: Film Scene~
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imdb.com - general information (data base form)
allmovie.com - plot synopsis
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afi.com - general information
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