A greedy tycoon decides, on a whim, to corner the world market in wheat. This doubles the price of bread, forcing the grain's producers into charity lines and further into poverty. The film... See full summary »
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J. Searle Dawley
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Francis J. Grandon,
A greedy tycoon decides, on a whim, to corner the world market in wheat. This doubles the price of bread, forcing the grain's producers into charity lines and further into poverty. The film continues to contrast the ironic differences between the lives of those who work to grow the wheat and the life of the man who dabbles in its sale for profit. Written by
James Meek <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1994. See more »
When the Wheat King reads the letter regarding his increase in wealth, he is wearing gloves. After he falls into the wheat pit, there is an un-gloved hand reaching for the heavens; however, when they pull him out, he is once again wearing gloves. See more »
D. W. Griffith was still finding his feet as a film director when he made this early short for Biograph in 1909, but it's clear that he was already emerging as a leader among the pioneering directors in New York.
This is quite a macabre parable in which an unscrupulous tycoon suffers an ironic fate after cornering the world market in wheat and boosting his bank balance by $4,000,000 in the process. Many aspects of the film are still quite primitive by today's standards - particularly the fraught scene in the trading pit during which nearly everybody overacts outrageously so that the viewer doesn't know where to look.
The cross-cutting for which Griffith would become justly famous is in evidence here, but it's interesting that, instead of using it to heighten moments of tension or suspense, he uses successive shots to emphasise the contrasting lifestyles of the ruthless speculator who drunkenly toasts his good fortune at a banquet with his friends while the poor working masses suffer the economic fallout of his manipulation of the market.
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