|Index||4 reviews in total|
Florence Lawrence (as Mabel Jarrett) lives happily with her parents
James Kirkwood and Flora Finch; while waiting for her suitor Arthur V.
Johnson (as Tom Hearne)'s inevitable proposal of marriage. Another
member of the household is Mary Pickford (as Winnie), who is not only
Ms. Lawrence's cousin, but also her best friend. Lawrence's life is
torn asunder when she receives a burn, then scar, on her face, during
an electrical accident. She perceives a difference in suitor Johnson's
attentions, after he sees her scarred face.
Most D.W. Griffith films from the period are notable for their technical innovations; "The Way of Man" is more notable for the indelible performances Griffith elicits. Lawrence, aka "The Biograph Girl", is especially memorable in her climactic rocky scene. Johnson is likewise convincing; he is torn between his love for the scarred Lawrence, and the suddenly more lovely Ms. Pickford. Together, Lawrence and Johnson are an exciting on-screen team. Note how, in an early scene, Johnson kisses and strokes the very part of Lawrence's face which will later be scarred; it's a Griffith touch that adds a subtle magic to the overall film.
Despite its strengths, you have to wonder about "The Way of Man" regarding beauty as depicted in this film. Lawrence's burn does not seriously alter her looks, and Johnson obviously still has feelings for her - she knows this, and still decides makes her decision - perhaps, she is slightly crazed. The ending is somewhat refreshingly unexpected, though sudden (the film becomes more rushed during the later playing time).
***** The Way of Man (6/28/09) D.W. Griffith ~ Florence Lawrence, Arthur V. Johnson, Mary Pickford
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the nearest approach to a problem play which the Biograph dramatic staff have yet taken up. Here is the problem: Given a man in love with a beautiful girl, and the girl loses her beauty through an accident, is that man bound in honor to marry her and remain true to her through life? The Biograph people don't put the problem so tersely as we do, but that is what it means all the same. Life itself is nothing but a series of problems from day to day which we have to solve for ourselves. Well, let us see how the Biograph people work out this very interesting problem. A young fellow in love with a pretty girl goes away to make his fortune. He makes that fortune. If the Biograph Company would allow us to say so, he makes that fortune unusually quickly, for he comes back quite unaltered in appearance, while the pretty girl does not appear a day older, since the fortune making process began. If our friends on Fourteenth Street would tell us where fortunes are made with such rapidity, we will quit newspaper work and go and pile up the "dough" to lay at the feet of that pretty Biograph girl. But to be serious; the lover on his return finds that things are not as he left them. The girl has a pretty cousin staying with her, while she herself has been the victim of a lamp accident, which has marred her beauty. For a time she conceals the scar from her lover, and he, poor fellow wants to be loyal to her, but it is obvious that the unscarred beauty of the cousin is influencing his heart. The man in him asserts itself to the detriment of the lover. Few of us we imagine, could be loyal to a disfigured idol. In a very tender scene, the disfigured girl, realizing the state of affairs, places the hand of her cousin in that of the man's and goes away presumably to commit suicide. She is followed by the household, who discover her clothes at the top of a steep river bank. But she does not commit suicide, and the lover marries the cousin, and the disfigured girl becomes happy amidst different surroundings. So the pretty little piece ends in a common sense if unromantic way. Of course there are other ways of treating this problem. One is obvious. The pretty cousin could have been made disloyal and the disfigured girl loyal, and the man's heart given to loyalty rather than to mere superficial beauty. But we were not the authors of this book, the story of which seemed to please the audience. As usual the photography of the subject was excellent, although the lighting was somewhat harsher than is usual with Biograph subjects; too much illumination seeming to come from the roof, and then the particular positive we saw was not so free of light splashes as we are accustomed to see in Biograph films. The famous Biograph heroine suffered patiently under her temporary disfigurement, and the leading man gave us a nice piece of acting as the puzzled lover. Altogether a very excellent Biograph comedy subject which fortunately did not end in tragedy. The Moving Picture World, July 3, 1909
Way of Man, The (1909)
** (out of 4)
After being disfigred in an accident, a woman refuses to marry her lover and instead tries to fix him up with her best friend. I'm not sure what Griffith was going for here but it doesn't work. There's some nice cinematography and an early but small role by Mary Pickford.
Her First Biscuits (1909)
**** (out of 4)
Hilarious black comedy/slapstick from Griffith. A new wife makes her first batch of biscuits for her husband. While they make him gag, he lies and says they're very good. The wife then sends a bag to his work for his co-workers and soon everyone's rushing towards the bathroom. I guess Griffith could do comedy when he wanted. I found myself with tears in my eyes due to all the laughing. The facial expressions of some of the victims were just downright hilarious and the ending was great as well. Mary Pickford has a small role.
Having made her debut in 'The Violin Maker of Cremona' and followed it up with 'The Lonely Villa', Mary Pickford went on to appear in this short film which I feel didn't do much for her. It's a pity that she didn't become Canada's sweetheart rather than America's.
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