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Lillian Gish Retrospective Closes at MoMA 12/13

MoMA- The Museum of Modern Art presents Lillian Gish
November 26-December 13, 2010 at The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters

American film actress Lillian Gish (1893-1993) enjoyed a seventy-five-year career with roles in over one hundred films-about half of which are included in the Museum's collection-including such landmark works as her debut film, An Unseen Enemy, a Biograph short made in 1912 by D. W. Griffith; and her last silent picture, The Wind (1928). Though she is frequently characterized as a waifish portrait of fragility, Gish's characters in films such as Way Down East (1920), Orphans of the Storm (1922), The Scarlet Letter (1926), and The Night of the Hunter (1955) embodied female resilience in the face of abandonment, persecution, and mortal peril. This retrospective, drawn entirely from the Museum's collection, presents a rare opportunity to examine the breadth of Gish's career and represents MoMA's early and steadfast dedication to collecting seminal works of film history.

Organized by Jenny He, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film. This exhibition is presented in conjunction with MoMA's publication of Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art.

Public Information: The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

Hours: Films are screened Wednesday-Monday. For screening schedules, please visit our Film Exhibitions.

Film Admission: $10 adults; $8 seniors, 65 years and over with I.D. $6 full-time students with current I.D. (For admittance to film programs only.) The price of a film ticket may be applied toward the price of a Museum admission ticket when a film ticket stub is presented at the Lobby Information Desk within 30 days of the date on the stub (does not apply during Target Free Friday Nights, 4:00-8:00 p.m.). Admission is free for Museum members and for Museum ticketholders.

The public may call (212) 708-9400 for detailed Museum information. Visit us at www.moma.org

Image: True Heart Susie. 1919. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Courtesy Film Stills Archive, The Museum of Modern Art.


SCREENING SCHEDULE
Lillian Gish
November 26-December 13, 2010


Friday, November 26

6:30 Early Roles. This program highlights Lillian Gish's film debut as well as her acting tutelage
under American Mutoscope and Biograph director D. W. Griffith. Program 72 min. Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman.

An Unseen Enemy. Incomplete. 1912. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by Edward Acker. With Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Elmer Booth, Robert Harron. The Gish sisters play victims to their larcenous maid. 14 min. T2.

The Musketeers of Pig Alley. 1912. USA. Written and directed by D. W. Griffith. With Gish, Walter Miller, Elmer Booth. In this view of "New York's Other Side," Gish's "Little Lady" is caught in the middle of a feudal war between gangsters. 16 min. T2.

A Misunderstood Boy. 1913. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by W. Christy Cabanne. With Gish, Robert Harron, Kate Bruce, Lionel Barrymore. A boy (Harron) flees from vigilantes in this comedy set in the old West. 14 min. T2.

A Timely Interception. Incomplete. 1913. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by W. Christy Cabanne. With Gish, Robert Harron, W. Chrystie Miller, Lionel Barrymore. A farmer's daughter (Gish) postpones her wedding in order to lend money to her uncle (Barrymore) who was recently fired from the oil fields. However, oil turns out to be their saving grace. 14 min. T2.

The Lady and the Mouse. 1913. USA. Written and directed by D. W. Griffith. With Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Hyde. Gish plays a young woman who shows sympathy to both mouse and man. Her compassion is repaid when a benefactor helps her sick sister. 14 min. T2.

Saturday, November 27

4:00 Later Biograph Shorts. Lillian Gish matures in her later Biograph shorts, branching out
to play both seductresses and saintly mothers. Program 80 min. Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman.

Just Gold. Incomplete. 1913. USA. Written and directed by D. W. Griffith. With Gish, Lionel Barrymore. Four brothers try their luck at gold prospecting, but the one who stays home with Gish ends up the luckiest. 15 min. T2.

A Woman in the Ultimate. 1913. USA. Directed by Dell Henderson. Screenplay by William E. Wing. With Gish, Charles Hill Mailes, Henry B. Walthall. A departure in style from Gish's earlier films, this unconventional Biograph short experiments with sophisticated filmmaking techniques in a story about a young woman tormented by confidence men. 16 min. T2.

The Mothering Heart. 1913. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by Hazel H. Hubbard. With Gish, Walter Miller. Made merely nine months after Gish's debut, she gives her first breakthrough performance in this short playing a betrayed wife and grieving mother. 23 min. T2.
The Battle at Elderbush Gulch. 1913. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by Griffith, Henry Albert Phillips. With Gish, Robert Harron, Mae Marsh. A prelude to Griffith's later battle epics, this short reinforces the image of the motherly Gish. 26 min. T2.

7:30 Hearts of the World. 1918. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by Griffith (as M. Gaston de Tolignac). With Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Robert Harron. Preceded by documentary battlefield footage filmed by (and starring) Griffith, this unabashedly patriotic World War I epic, at times comedic with clever and pithy intertitles, stars Gish and Harron as Americans living in France as the war breaks and their love sparks. Separated by tragedy, Gish's emotional intensity eclipses the chaos around her as she and Harron literally claw their way back to each other and demonstrates her development in just a few short years since her debut. Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman. 138 min. T2.

Sunday, November 28

2:00 A Romance of Happy Valley. 1919. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by Griffith (as Capt. Victor Maurier). With Gish, Robert Harron. A boy in Kentucky (Griffith's birthplace) is tempted by the big city despite having the love of a loyal and longing sweetheart at home (Gish). Gish played the simple country girl in a series of Griffith films that showcase naïve purity in characters that display unending devotion and faith. These characters were free of the trappings of torment and turmoil that often typify Gish's other collaborations with Griffith. Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman. 73 min. T2.

3:30 The Greatest Question. 1919. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by William Hale. With Gish, Robert Harron. This supernatural morality tale again casts Gish in the character of the dutiful country girl who suffers for the sake of those she loves. After the death of her parents, Gish is adopted by Harron's family, but poverty forces her to leave them and work for a treacherous couple. Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman. 81 min. T2.

Wednesday, December 1

4:00 True Heart Susie. 1919. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by Marian Fremont. With Gish, Robert Harron. The epitome of the "plain and simple girl," Susie (Gish) sells her beloved cow Daisy to secretly pay the college tuition of William (Harron), the oblivious love of her life, who goes on to marry someone else. Although undertones of the martyr figure reverberate throughout many of her roles, this overt portrayal of sacrifice, one of her more restrained and naturalistic performances, highlights Gish's peerless ability to communicate longing. Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman. 68 min. T2.

7:00 Broken Blossoms, or The Yellow Man and the Girl. 1919. USA. Written and directed by D. W. Griffith. Based on the story "The Chink and the Child," by Thomas Burke. With Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Donald Crisp. This anti-immigration treatise and doomed love story pairs Gish with Barthelmess, a remarkable collaboration that Griffith would later perfect in Way Down East. The chemistry between the actors serves to balance the intense psychological and physical torture inflicted upon Gish in both films. Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman. 88 min. T2.

Thursday, December 2

4:00 Way Down East. 1920. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by Anthony Paul Kelly, based on the play by Lottie Blair Parker. With Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Lowell Sherman. Arguably Griffith's masterpiece, this apotheosis of the Gish-Griffith collaborations incorporates all of the actress's signature onscreen personas: the simple country girl, the madonna with child, and the abandoned woman. Tricked out of her virginity and robbed of her innocence, Anna (Gish) endures multiple tragedies before redemption at the hands of her literal savior, David (Barthelmess). Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman. 150 min. T2.

7:00 Orphans of the Storm. 1922. USA. Written and directed by D. W. Griffith. Based on the play The Two Orphans, by Adolphe D'Ennery and Eugène Cormon. With Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Joseph Schildkraut. The French Revolution is the backdrop for Gish's last film with Griffith, and one of her final collaborations with her sister Dorothy. Lillian plays the familiar role of sister's keeper-in this case, she becomes separated from a blind Dorothy and must fight her way back to her sister as the political upheaval unravels and a spurned advance threatens to send Lillian to the guillotine. New York premiere of MoMA's new 2009 preservation. Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman. 142 min. T2.

Friday, December 3

4:00 The Scarlet Letter. 1926. USA. Directed by Victor Sjöstrom. Screenplay by Frances Marion, based on the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne. With Gish, Lars Hanson. Gish's clout helped bring Hawthorne's scandalous novel to the screen. Although playing legendary literary sinner Hester Prynne may seem out of character for Gish, her chaste Hollywood persona provided a compelling foil for the conflicting motivations of this complex character-mother, lover, and adulterer-and lent depth to Sjöström's adaptation. This was Gish's personal print of the film, which the longtime champion of film preservation generously donated to MoMA. Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman. 76 min. T2.

Saturday, December 4

1:30 The Wind. 1928. USA. Directed by Victor Sjöström. Screenplay by Frances Marion, based on the novel by Dorothy Scarborough. With Gish, Lars Hanson. Gish's farewell to her silent era pits her against man, nature and herself. An object of multiple men's affections, Gish's Letty, a genteel Southern girl transplanted to the wanton Wild West, is punished with madness for the sin of seduction. Silent, with music and sound effects. 72 min. T2.

4:00 His Double Life. 1933. USA. Directed by Arthur Hopkins. Screenplay by Hopkins, Clara Beranger, based on the novel Buried Alive and the play The Great Adventure, both by Arnold Bennett. With Gish, Roland Young. Gish's second sound film, though rarely noted among the highlights of her career, is an overlooked comedic gem. The film takes advantage of the amusing contrast between the steady and steadfast Gish and the skittish and irresolute Young, who plays a successful but agoraphobic painter caught up in a case of mistaken identity. 68 min. T2.

Sunday, December 5

2:00 Duel in the Sun. 1946. USA. Directed by King Vidor. Screenplay by David O. Selznick, Oliver H. P. Garrett, based on the novel by Niven Busch. With Gish, Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Gregory Peck, Lionel Barrymore. After years on the stage, Gish's return to film came in the form of supporting roles. In this epic Western, Pearl (Jones) is a woman torn between two brothers. Gish plays the doting and kind mother of the feuding siblings, and the unrequited lover of Pearl's late father. The film's exquisite compositions, rendered in glorious Technicolor, are reminiscent of Renaissance oil paintings. 135 min. T2.

5:00 The Trip to Bountiful. 1953. USA. Directed by Vincent J. Donehue. Screenplay by Horton Foote, based on his play. With Gish, Eileen Heckart, John Beal. In this made-for-television adaptation of Foote's play, Gish gives an exquisite performance as an elderly woman tormented by memory and the golden days of her past-a role that she had also played on stage. The Trip to Bountiful encapsulates Gish's eminent acting career in the mediums of theater, television, and film. 60 min. T2.

Monday, December 6

4:00 The Night of the Hunter. 1955. USA. Directed by Charles Laughton. Screenplay by James Agee, based on the novel by David Grubb. With Gish, Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters. A murderer in preacher's clothing preys on two children with a lucrative secret. The babes find refuge in Gish's gun-toting Rachel Cooper, a nouveau madonna with an adopted flock of wayward and forsaken children. 92 min. T2.

Wednesday, December 8

4:00 The Whales of August. 1987. USA. Directed by Lindsay Anderson. Screenplay by David Berry, based on his play. With Gish, Bette Davis, Vincent Price, Ann Sothern. Featuring screen veterans in their twilight performances, The Whales of August casts Gish and Davis as sisters who encounter new love and recall old memories while living out their golden years in the seaside Maine cottage where they came of age. Gish's final film encapsulates a career of playing strong leading women as her quietly ferocious Sarah serves as caretaker to her curmudgeonly sister. 90 min. T2.

7:00 Later Biograph Shorts
Lillian Gish matures in her later Biograph shorts, branching out to play both seductresses and saintly mothers. Program 80 min. Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman.

Just Gold. Incomplete. 1913. USA. Written and directed by D. W. Griffith. With Gish, Lionel Barrymore. Four brothers try their luck at gold prospecting, but the one who stays home with Gish ends up the luckiest. 15 min. T2.

A Woman in the Ultimate. 1913. USA. Directed by Dell Henderson. Screenplay by William E. Wing. With Gish, Charles Hill Mailes, Henry B. Walthall. A departure in style from Gish's earlier films, this unconventional Biograph short experiments with sophisticated filmmaking techniques in a story about a flapper tormented by confidence men. 16 min. T2.

The Mothering Heart. 1913. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by Hazel H. Hubbard. With Gish, Walter Miller. Made merely nine months after Gish's debut, she gives her first breakthrough performance in this short playing a betrayed wife and grieving mother. 23 min. T2.

The Battle at Elderbush Gulch. 1913. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by Griffith, Henry Albert Phillips. With Gish, Robert Harron, Mae Marsh. A prelude to Griffith's later battle epics, this short reinforces the image of the motherly Gish. 26 min. T2.

Thursday, December 9

4:00 Hearts of the World. 1918. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by Griffith (as M. Gaston de Tolignac). With Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Robert Harron. Preceded by documentary battlefield footage filmed by (and starring) Griffith, this unabashedly patriotic World War I epic, at times comedic with clever and pithy intertitles, stars Gish and Harron as Americans living in France as the war breaks and their love sparks. Separated by tragedy, Gish's emotional intensity eclipses the chaos around her as she and Harron literally claw their way back to each other and demonstrates her development in just a few short years since her debut. Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman. 138 min. T2.

7:00 His Double Life. 1933. USA. Directed by Arthur Hopkins. Screenplay by Hopkins, Clara Beranger, based on the novel Buried Alive and the play The Great Adventure, both by Arnold Bennett. With Gish, Roland Young. Gish's second sound film, though rarely noted among the highlights of her career, is an overlooked comedic gem. The film takes advantage of the amusing contrast between the steady and steadfast Gish and the skittish and irresolute Young, who plays a successful but agoraphobic painter caught up in a case of mistaken identity. 68 min. T2.

Friday, December 10

4:00 A Romance of Happy Valley. 1919. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by Griffith (as Capt. Victor Maurier). With Gish, Robert Harron. A boy in Kentucky (Griffith's birthplace) is tempted by the big city despite having the love of a loyal and longing sweetheart at home (Gish). Gish played the simple country girl in a series of Griffith films that showcase naïve purity in characters that display unending devotion and faith. These characters were free of the trappings of torment and turmoil that often typify Gish's other collaborations with Griffith. Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman. 73 min. T2.

6:00 The Greatest Question. 1919. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by William Hale. With Gish, Robert Harron. This supernatural morality tale again casts Gish in the character of the dutiful country girl who suffers for the sake of those she loves. After the death of her parents, Gish is adopted by Harron's family, but poverty forces her to leave them and work for a treacherous couple. Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman. 81 min. T2.

8:00 True Heart Susie. 1919. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by Marian Fremont. With Gish, Robert Harron. The epitome of the "plain and simple girl," Susie (Gish) sells her beloved cow Daisy to secretly pay the college tuition of William (Harron), the oblivious love of her life, who goes on to marry someone else. Although undertones of the martyr figure reverberate throughout many of her roles, this overt portrayal of sacrifice, one of her more restrained and naturalistic performances, highlights Gish's peerless ability to communicate longing. Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman. 68 min. T2.

Saturday, December 11

1:30 The Night of the Hunter. 1955. USA. Directed by Charles Laughton. Screenplay by James Agee, based on the novel by David Grubb. With Gish, Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters. A murderer in preacher's clothing preys on two children with a lucrative secret. The babes find refuge in Gish's gun-toting Rachel Cooper, a nouveau madonna with an adopted flock of wayward and forsaken children. 92 min. T2.

4:00 Way Down East. 1920. USA. Directed by D. W. Griffith. Screenplay by Anthony Paul Kelly, based on the play by Lottie Blair Parker. With Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Lowell Sherman. Arguably Griffith's masterpiece, this apotheosis of the Gish-Griffith collaborations incorporates all of the actress's signature onscreen personas: the simple country girl, the madonna with child, and the abandoned woman. Tricked out of her virginity and robbed of her innocence, Anna (Gish) endures multiple tragedies before redemption at the hands of her literal savior, David (Barthelmess). Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman. 150 min. T2.

7:30 The Scarlet Letter. 1926. USA. Directed by Victor Sjöstrom. Screenplay by Frances Marion, based on the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne. With Gish, Lars Hanson. Gish's clout helped bring Hawthorne's scandalous novel to the screen. Although playing legendary literary sinner Hester Prynne may seem out of character for Gish, her chaste Hollywood persona provided a compelling foil for the conflicting motivations of this complex character-mother, lover, and adulterer-and lent depth to Sjöström's adaptation. This was Gish's personal print of the film, which the longtime champion of film preservation generously donated to MoMA. Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman. 76 min. T2.

Sunday, December 12

2:00 The Whales of August. 1987. USA. Directed by Lindsay Anderson. Screenplay by David Berry, based on his play. With Gish, Bette Davis, Vincent Price, Ann Sothern. Featuring screen veterans in their twilight performances, The Whales of August casts Gish and Davis as sisters who encounter new love and recall old memories while living out their golden years in the seaside Maine cottage where they came of age. Gish's final film encapsulates a career of playing strong leading women as her quietly ferocious Sarah serves as caretaker to her curmudgeonly sister. 90 min. T2.

Monday, December 13

4:00 Orphans of the Storm (screens with An Unseen Enemy and The Lady and the Mouse). 1922. USA. Written and directed by D. W. Griffith. Based on the play The Two Orphans, by Adolphe D'Ennery and Eugène Cormon. With Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, Joseph Schildkraut. The French Revolution is the backdrop for Gish's last film with Griffith, and one of her final collaborations with her sister Dorothy. Lillian plays the familiar role of sister's keeper-in this case, she becomes separated from a blind Dorothy and must fight her way back to her sister as the political upheaval unravels and a spurned advance threatens to send Lillian to the guillotine. New York premiere of MoMA's new 2009 preservation. Silent, with musical accompaniment by Stuart Oderman. 142 min. T2.


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