Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Revenue Man and the Girl

US 1911. PC: Biograph. D: D.W. Griffith; DP: G.W. Bitzer; cast: Dorothy West (the moonshiner's daughter), Edwin August (the revenue man), Gladys Egan, Charles Hill Mailes, Charles H. West; Betacam SP (transfer from 8mm acetate print, 16 fps), 14’; print source: Andreas Benz Collection, Neckarsulm. Original in English with e-subtitles in Italian, grand piano: Andreas Benz. Viewed in Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, Ridotto del Verdi, 7 October 2008. - David Mayer: "The moonshiner’s daughter is first seen caressing and kissing her pet dove. Carrying hollowed gourds to be used as “jugs” for the distilled brew, she is sent by her father to assist at the illegal still. Meanwhile, pair of revenue men sneak through the forest, intent on discovering the still. Coming upon the girl’s cabin, the revenue men arrest and disarm two moonshiners, then begin their trek to take the arrested men back to jail. Alerted to the men’s arrest by the younger daughter, the moonshiners arm themselves and track the revenuers to the point at which they are handing the arrested men to other unidentified law officers. In the gun battle between the revenue men and the moonshiners, the girl’s father and one of the revenuers are killed. The other revenue man, frightened and disoriented, runs from his pursuers, loses his rife in a fast-moving creek, and reaches a temporary hiding place exhausted and unarmed. The girl, discovering her father’s corpse and that of the slain revenuer, mourns her parent and promises vengeance against revenuers even as she abuses the revenue man’s dead body. With the father buried and mourned, the girl, armed with a rifle, joins the remaining moonshiners in pursuit of the hidden revenuer. She stalks the fugitive through the forest, spies him, and is about to take aim, when her pet dove drops from a tree directly onto the revenue man. He picks up and caresses the dove, feeds it (revenue men always carry birdseed just in case, especially when they’re on tax raids in Kentucky, where white doves tend to plummet suddenly from trees), and releases it. Observing the revenue man’s kindness to the dove and moved by his gentleness, the girl is now disposed to be kinder to the revenue man. She takes him to her cabin, hides him beneath her bed, and pretends to be asleep when the moonshiner posse comes in pursuit. Having successfully saved the revenue man, the girl sends him on his way, but he hangs back, declares his love for the girl, and, after some hesitation on her part, gets her to confess her affection for her. We last see them as, backs to the camera and her belongings in a bundle tied to a stick, they stroll from the forest onto a country road leading to town." – David Mayer [DWG Project # 361]. - AA: a naive, strong, compact drama. Print stems from the Paul Killiam edition with his introduction. Impressive brevity, strong sense of the nature.

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