Monday, April 13, 2015

Broken Blossoms (1919)

IMDb plot summary: A frail waif, abused by her brutal boxer father in London's seedy Limehouse District, is befriended by a sensitive Chinese immigrant with tragic consequences.
Directed by D.W. Griffith. Starring Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Donald Crisp, and Arthur Howard.

Silent dramas are a hard sell for me, and this one takes quite a little while to get going. When it does, it's 100% Lillian Gish's show. Well, maybe 90% Lillian Gish and 10% Donald Crisp, who is terrifying enough to make Gish's response believable. Whether she's desperately trying to smile so her adoptive father will leave her alone, or hiding in a closet panicking that there's no way out, she's captivating, and the final scenes with her are mesmerizing. Richard Barthelmess is not given much to do in this script besides look sad and plaintive, but that's OK, because despite how the film opens, this is definitely not his story. I liked it overall, but it's entirely due to Gish's performance. The story itself is kind of lackluster and wouldn't have mattered to me at all with a less impressive actress.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Broken Blossoms > The Family Man
Broken Blossoms < Eat Pray Love
Broken Blossoms > Crazy Heart
Broken Blossoms > The Great Gatsby (1974)
Broken Blossoms < Watchmen
Broken Blossoms < A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)
Broken Blossoms > Away We Go
Broken Blossoms < The Happening
Broken Blossoms < Collateral
Broken Blossoms > Frances Ha
Broken Blossoms < Liberal Arts
Final spot: #710 out of 2346.

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