Friday, October 10, 2008


(1) [CONVERSATION BETWEEN D.W. GRIFFITH AND WALTER HUSTON ON THE BIRTH OF A NATION] (D.W. Griffith, Inc., US 1930). D: David W. Griffith; cast: D.W. Griffith, Walter Huston; [16mm?], 213 ft., 6 min, sound; print : MoMa, original in English, e-subtitles in Italian - shown in some other format than 16mm
(2) [INTERMISSION PROLOGUE TO THE BIRTH OF A NATION REISSUE] (D.W. Griffith, Inc., US 1930). D: David W. Griffith; cast: D.W. Griffith; 225 ft., 2’30”, sound; print: LoC, original in English, e-subtitles in Italian
Kevin Brownlow: "This interview between Walter Huston and Griffith was planned as the prologue to the 1930 reissue (with soundtrack) of The Birth of a Nation, but it was probably not used. Huston and the crew had come off Abraham Lincoln. It was photographed by Karl Struss, Griffith’s regular cameraman at this period. The assistant director was the veteran Herbert Sutch, the head electrician was Edward Seward, and the children were Byron Sagee, Betsy Heisler (the daughter of Stuart Heisler?), and Dawn O’Day, a child actress who grew up to be Anne Shirley. Since the crew came from Abraham Lincoln, one can safely assume that Griffith directed it and that the assistant cameraman was Stanley Cortez." – Kevin Brownlow.
In the prologue to the second half of the film, Griffith reads intertitles from the silent version and quotations from Woodrow Wilson’s A History of the American People (1902).
"The Huston-Griffith prologue was shown when The Birth of a Nation opened as a road show at the Geary Theater in San Francisco in September 1930, and played for 3 weeks. This was a grand affair, complete with live prologue. The Griffith reading may have been shown too. But the run was a financial disappointment, involving legal entanglements with the co-producer, W.H. Kemble, a Brooklyn theatre man who with Aitken revived the Triangle Film Corp. in order to create the sound reissue of Birth. The pre-recorded interview was dropped when the show moved to Los Angeles. I don’t think it was ever used again." – Russell Merritt.
William M. Drew: "[The Walter Huston prologue] seems to have been cut from the film not long after [the run at the Geary Theatre in the fall of 1930], as I can find no mention of the prologue in the many articles and advertisements heralding the nationwide reissue of the synchronized version throughout 1931 when I was searching the online newspaper archive. Fortunately, however, the prologue was eventually rediscovered and made available in the 1960s." (William M. Drew)
It is sad to witness Walter Huston speaking of "the great Ku Klux Klan", and Griffith affirming that "rather true does it sound". And both had just filmed Abraham Lincoln.

1 comment:

david santos said...

Great work!!!
Have a nice weekend.