The Movies, Mr. Griffith, And Me

The Movies, Mr. Griffith, And Me

Colorful, lively, and moving memoir of a giant of the early screen, actress Lillian Gish. Her story is inseparable with the history of the movies, from the early days, when the pioneers of the industry worked long hours through hardship and cold, public criticism through the horrors of war, and the proverty of the Depression. She knew them all: Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo,...

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Title:The Movies, Mr. Griffith, And Me
Author:Lillian Gish
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Edition Language:English

The Movies, Mr. Griffith, And Me Reviews

  • Graceann

    Lillian Gish glosses over quite a little bit, I'm sure, but that doesn't make this read any less entertaining. She was in the movies almost from the very beginning, and her stories will always be interesting to anyone who cares about film.

  • Karla

    I read this book at least a dozen times back in high school, and some of the first silent films I ever saw were D.W. Griffith's early Biographs thanks to this book and a bunch of junky public domain VHS tapes at the local video store. Of course, now that time has wore on and I've read a broader selection of books about the era and the people in Gish's orbit, there's an obvious haze of selective memory and reinvention in this memoir. But no matter. This is one of the first books I ever read about

    I read this book at least a dozen times back in high school, and some of the first silent films I ever saw were D.W. Griffith's early Biographs thanks to this book and a bunch of junky public domain VHS tapes at the local video store. Of course, now that time has wore on and I've read a broader selection of books about the era and the people in Gish's orbit, there's an obvious haze of selective memory and reinvention in this memoir. But no matter. This is one of the first books I ever read about silent film and its fascinating performers, and I'll always be fond of it.

  • Steffi

    This book is very very interesting. Not only is it an autobiography of one of the most distinguished actresses of the last century, it also offers a view on the early days of film making; the reader is witnessing the birth of many of the modern film techniques, and gains knowledge about the beginnings of an industry. It also doubles as a part biography of D.W. Griffith, who was responsible for practically inventing all these techniques. Lillian Gish writes like the lady she apparently was, with

    This book is very very interesting. Not only is it an autobiography of one of the most distinguished actresses of the last century, it also offers a view on the early days of film making; the reader is witnessing the birth of many of the modern film techniques, and gains knowledge about the beginnings of an industry. It also doubles as a part biography of D.W. Griffith, who was responsible for practically inventing all these techniques. Lillian Gish writes like the lady she apparently was, with good dry humor and wisdom. She talks about famous actors and actresses she met during their early days, about film, theatre, her mother and sister (actress Dorothy Gish) and finally, herself. Recommended for everyone who is interested in film. Note that this book was written in the late 60s so naturally, it doesn't include the rest of Lillian's long career.

  • Kathleen

    "But from the age of nine I was always falling in and out of love.

    "But marriage is a twenty-four-hour-a-day job, and I have always been much too busy to make a good wife. Older women used to say to me, 'Whatever you do, don't get married.' All their troubles seemed to be caused by their husbands. Besides, my mother had not been able to succeed in marriage, and I doubted that I could succeed where she, who was wise and perfect, had failed.

    "'My films are my children,' I once said to Helen Hayes,

    "But from the age of nine I was always falling in and out of love.

    "But marriage is a twenty-four-hour-a-day job, and I have always been much too busy to make a good wife. Older women used to say to me, 'Whatever you do, don't get married.' All their troubles seemed to be caused by their husbands. Besides, my mother had not been able to succeed in marriage, and I doubted that I could succeed where she, who was wise and perfect, had failed.

    "'My films are my children,' I once said to Helen Hayes, and she replied, 'The pain of having a child is nothing compared to the pain of creating a character.'"

  • Linda

    Lillian Gish is one of the first movie stars and it's too bad that today's stars aren't more like her. She is graceful and elegant and a woman of character. This book was enjoyable because you got to know her, but also learn about the beginning of film making.

    My only complaint is that a large portion of the book is truly a D.W. Griffith biography and not as much about Lillian. But on the flip side of that, when she stops talking about Griffith, the book isn't as interesting.

    Overall...a great r

    Lillian Gish is one of the first movie stars and it's too bad that today's stars aren't more like her. She is graceful and elegant and a woman of character. This book was enjoyable because you got to know her, but also learn about the beginning of film making.

    My only complaint is that a large portion of the book is truly a D.W. Griffith biography and not as much about Lillian. But on the flip side of that, when she stops talking about Griffith, the book isn't as interesting.

    Overall...a great read!

  • Jenny

    Fascinating story of Gish's life and the people she knew in the early days of the film business.

  • Joseph Longo

    I recommend this biography of actress Lillian Gish. Gish started acting on stage when she was four years old, at the start of the last century. She became a major silent film star. She died at ninety-nine and was still acting on stage, screen and television into her eighties. Gish was one of D.W. Griffith's leading ladies and his biggest star. Griffith was a silent film director who essentially created filmic story telling. The best part of the biography is Gish's closeness to Griffith and her d

    I recommend this biography of actress Lillian Gish. Gish started acting on stage when she was four years old, at the start of the last century. She became a major silent film star. She died at ninety-nine and was still acting on stage, screen and television into her eighties. Gish was one of D.W. Griffith's leading ladies and his biggest star. Griffith was a silent film director who essentially created filmic story telling. The best part of the biography is Gish's closeness to Griffith and her detailing his evolution as a director and creator of a new way of telling stories. If you are interested in getting a first-hand look at film history and the evolution and career of a great but controversial director, this is a book to read. It is also gives fascinating insights into the life of a woman who worked for more than eighty years as an actress.

  • Phil Ford

    Lillian Gish and D.W. Griffith are perhaps the two most important figures in early film. At the time, Griffith was making movie and after movie, ground-breaking in scope and technique while Gish was creating one of the most memorable dignified movie star personaes around. I find Gish a fascinating person, with her kind of Victorian sensibility thrown headlong into the modern world of movie-making as she spins her POV of the excitment and experiment that was early filmmaking. She makes for some i

    Lillian Gish and D.W. Griffith are perhaps the two most important figures in early film. At the time, Griffith was making movie and after movie, ground-breaking in scope and technique while Gish was creating one of the most memorable dignified movie star personaes around. I find Gish a fascinating person, with her kind of Victorian sensibility thrown headlong into the modern world of movie-making as she spins her POV of the excitment and experiment that was early filmmaking. She makes for some interesting yarns, which a lot of this turns out to be, all in a kind of matter-of-fact way that you can totally see her saying in a conversation, especially if you have seen any video of her speaking (as in the KINO Broken Blossom DVDs bonus material).

    Still, you have to wonder how much of it is "true", particularly when it comes to her claiming to have influenced D.W. on the making of some of his most important work such as Intolerance. I for one believe her to an extent, and really appreciate her take on how movies were made in the early days, when everyone did everything and the material was not overtaken by producers and the Studios, which she claims lead to Griffith's demise as a filmmaker; the lack of control over his material. (Well, that and the drinking.) If you love the silent era and early Hollywood storytelling, and don't mind the yarning, this is right up your reading alley and perhaps required reading.

  • Richard

    I wouldn't go so far as to say that this book is essential reading for those who are interested in the silent movie era, but it's probably just a notch or two below essential. Lillian Gish was one of the most important figures of the era, and her story is certainly worth reading.

    I don't think I had fully appreciated how serious Lillian Gish was about her craft. I should have guessed; she starting acting as a small child and continued into her nineties. Gish's stories about the making of her film

    I wouldn't go so far as to say that this book is essential reading for those who are interested in the silent movie era, but it's probably just a notch or two below essential. Lillian Gish was one of the most important figures of the era, and her story is certainly worth reading.

    I don't think I had fully appreciated how serious Lillian Gish was about her craft. I should have guessed; she starting acting as a small child and continued into her nineties. Gish's stories about the making of her films are often interesting, especially her trip to France during the first World War to make

    as well as behind-the-scenes stories about

    ,

    and

    . And of course, there's

    , a film in which she's barely seen but where she was constantly on set helping with the production, and

    .

    Gish was a great admirer of D.W. Griffith, and although this is her autobiography, it also serves as a biography of Griffith as well. (As indicated by the title.) In reading Richard Schickel's biography of Griffith,

    (which

    essential), I had gotten the impression that Gish's famous ice floe scene in

    was a case of a young impressionable actress, in the thrall of the famous director, being subjected to unfair hardship in the filming of that scene. (I don't know if Schickel intended to convey that impression, but it is what I took away from his account.) But reading Gish shows that that wasn't the case. She was a

    dedicated actress, and filming in a blizzard, with her hand and hair dragging through ice cold water and risking frostbite was as much her idea as Griffith's. While Lillian Gish may seem frail and willowy on screen, she was tough and determined off screen.

    I do have to say, though, that I was disappointed by her defense of Griffith's version of the events he portrayed in

    . Gish wrote this book around 1969, deep into the Civil Rights era, and she apparently had no conception of how racist and ludicrous that film was. She stated that "Mr. Griffith had nothing to apologize for" and even implied that it was the people who opposed

    who were the bigots.

  • Sonia

    I wouldn't say this book is about the life of Lillian Gish since you learn more about D.W. Griffith than Miss Gish herself. I don't have a problem with it since the man is as essential as she is, but it gave me the impression that she only lived and breathe because of him and her job. The first part is about the early days of films, before the stars, the producers, and the big Hollywood machine. It takes you to a different world, harsh at times but Gish manage to romanticize her ordeals because

    I wouldn't say this book is about the life of Lillian Gish since you learn more about D.W. Griffith than Miss Gish herself. I don't have a problem with it since the man is as essential as she is, but it gave me the impression that she only lived and breathe because of him and her job. The first part is about the early days of films, before the stars, the producers, and the big Hollywood machine. It takes you to a different world, harsh at times but Gish manage to romanticize her ordeals because she loved being part of that new industry. The first half of the book is fascinating, and I really enjoyed it. Once you pass that era, and once there is nothing more to say about Griffith the biography just becomes a long dull list of "I did this " and "I did that". She worked with the greatest but she doesn't have much to say about them unless her involvement had an impact on their career. She didn't really hang out with her fellow actors or go to Hollywood parties, Griffith and the stage set was her entire world.

    The chapter about the making of the Birth of a Nation is very interesting, but some parts made me frown. She defends Griffith's portrayal of African Americans during the civil war, claiming that he only told history of what really happened. I think that since Miss Gish didn't get a normal education, she was very naive about the facts so I guess we have to forgive her ignorance. I have only seen the movie once, and even though it is a technical masterpiece that changed the movie industry forever I cannot deny that it did a lot of damage to a portion of the American population. She doesn't recognize that, and it is a pity!

    Even though I didn't learn much about Lillian Gish on a personal level, this book made me want to revisit the silent era, and D.W. Griffith's movies in particular. In spite of the issues I had with this biography I would recommend this book to any cinephiles, or lovers of the silent era.

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