Way Down East (1920)


"Say? Aren't you that loose whore everyone's been talking about?"
"Say? Aren't you that loose whore everyone's been talking about?"

Genre: Silent Drama Romance

Starring: Lillian Gish (The Musketeers of Pig Alley; The Birth of A Nation), Richard Barthelmess (Only Angels Have Wings; Broken Blossoms)

Directed By: D.W. Griffith (The Birth Of A Nation; Intolerance)

Overview: In this story of a poor woman conned into a fake married then dropped like a sack of rocks, she tries to move on, but finds her past all too close.

Performance:

It's D.W. Griffith so it's bound to be melodramatic. It's the times, fine. Gish and Barthelmess do great together, just like in Broken Blossoms, but there's extra characters that didn't need to even be there, and they're bad comics. I think D.W. was trying to be funny... and he's not.
Rating: 5

Cinematography:

The farm, the houses, all that was quaint and appropriate. The high society locations and outfits were nice (though some seemed chintzy, maybe it's the era). I'm not sure why I'm not more impressed, but watching is not why you're here.
Rating: 6

Script:

UTTERLY FRUSTRATING! The plot holes are so huge that simply for the sake of drama do they stretch out clearing up an easily explained issue until it blows up into a climax. Fine. That aside, there were a couple of well written lines, but this woman is weak and I didn't like the telling of this story. Grow a pair, Jesus!
Rating: 5

Plot:

Too long, unnecessary characters, an overly done Soap Opera. Normally the issue would be resolved in minutes. Instead, melodrama ensues, with everything coming to a head at the dinner table, while the poor forlorn IDIOT of a girl runs off and gets herself lost on an icefloe, for shame! 'Boo Hoo, poor weak little me.' What a twit. HE LIED ABOUT YOU BEING MARRIED TO HIM. WHAT'S THE SHAME IN THAT? Is a married woman loose? No. She's married! CHRIST!
Rating: 2

Mood:

The believability of a woman who is so weak that she chooses suicide over explanations and surrounded by people who see only in black and white is only compounded by the fact that this woman is not only not a liar, but she keeps the TRUTH THAT WILL SAVE HER, from the people who judge her. Besides that, too long, didn't like it, and those icefloes were obviously wood planks, stop running around on them for God's sake.
Rating: 3

Lillian Gish. A good actress with a terrible director. D.W.! Shame on you!
Lillian Gish. A good actress with a terrible director. D.W.! Shame on you!

Overall Rating: 42% (Way Down? Tell Me About It!)
Aftertaste:

So, D.W. Griffith. I think I'm done studying this guy's films with this last installment of films from my list of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. He directed 535 films, shorts mostly, between 1908 and 1931. I liked Broken Blossoms best (80%), and Orphans of the Storm was alright (76%), but the rest of his stuff showcases either weak women or outright racism, and they go ON and ON! Murnau's got you beat, buddy.

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