Archive for March 13th, 2010

by Allan Fish

(USA 1928 75m) not on DVD

The dreaded Norther

p  Lillian Gish, Victor Sjöstrom  d  Victor Sjöstrom  w  Frances Marion, John Colton  novel  Dorothy Scarborough  ph  John Arnold  ed  Conrad A.Nervig  m  Carl Davis  art  Cedric Gibbons, Edward Withers  cos  André-Ani

Lillian Gish (Letty Mason), Lars Hanson (Lige Hightower), Montagu Love (Wirt Roddy), Dorothy Cummings (Cora), Edward Earle (Beverly), William Orlamond (Sourdough),

This is the story of a woman who came into the domain of the winds” the opening captions read and, if ever a film could be described as tempestuous, it’s this one.  One of the last great silents of the American screen, along with The Wedding March, The Crowd and Docks of New York it represented the final zenith of that soon to be outmoded art form.  The coming of talkies seemed predestined to arrive in time for the post 1929 depression, and the cinema would once more push art aside in favour of entertainment.

            Letty Mason is travelling from her Virginia home to her cousin’s small ranch at the desert post of Sweet Water (did this influence Leone’s like-named ranch in Once Upon a Time in the West, where Claudia Cardinale is travelling by train in the opening sequence?).  Arriving, she immediately causes her cousin’s stern wife to grow jealous, the latter accusing her of trying to lure her cousin from his wife.  Letty is proposed to by two local hicks, Lige and Sourdough, though she rather prefers the attentions of scoundrel Wirt Roddy (anagram of ‘dirty word’).  But when she shows up to marry him, he tells her of his previous marriage and she is forced to marry Lige.  However, in refusing to allow him to consummate their marriage, Lige is driven to desperate measures to raise money to send her off back where she came from.  Roddy, meanwhile, has designs of his own. (more…)


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