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What Drink Did (1909)

 -  Short | Drama  -  3 June 1909 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 97 users  
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A man leaves his wife and two daughters for work in a carpentry shop. At work, he initially refuses a beer with lunch, then gives in. After work, two friends take a little while to convince... See full summary »



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Title: What Drink Did (1909)

What Drink Did (1909) on IMDb 5.6/10

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Credited cast:
David Miles ...
Alfred Lucas
Mrs. Alfred Lucas
Gladys Egan ...
One of the Lucas Children
Adele DeGarde ...
One of the Lucas Children
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Charles Avery ...
John R. Cumpson ...
Flora Finch
Anita Hendrie ...
Arthur V. Johnson ...
George Nichols ...
Anthony O'Sullivan ...
Herbert Prior ...


A man leaves his wife and two daughters for work in a carpentry shop. At work, he initially refuses a beer with lunch, then gives in. After work, two friends take a little while to convince him to go for a refreshing malt beverage, then to have another and another. Meanwhile, the family waits. He arrives home late and abusive. The next day, hung over, he takes much less convincing to have the drinks; he's gone so long that his wife sends a daughter looking for him. She eventually finds him, can't convince him to return home, goes home, sees her mother's distress, and returns to the bar. This time, her father gets more abusive, a fight ensues, a shot is fired, and tragedy strikes. Written by Jon Reeves <>

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alcohol | See All (1) »


Short | Drama





Release Date:

3 June 1909 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Edited into Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

"Having learned a bitter lesson"
5 July 2008 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

What Drink Did announces itself as "a thoughtful moral lesson". The trouble is, for all his skill with film form (which is undeveloped here in any case) DW Griffith was a pretty mediocre moralist, especially this early in his career. This daft little anti-alcohol parable is one of many oddities he created in 1909.

Let's look first though at Griffith's fledgling technique. The story begins with a series of long takes, as was the custom with these early Biograph shorts, introducing the various characters and locations. But Griffith was also just beginning to experiment with crosscutting, and halfway through the film he begins switching back and forth between two settings. It's a very early example of parallel editing, and to be honest rather basic, but it serves its purpose in the narrative.

The above is however the only redeeming feature. Griffith and his collaborators were apparently still under the delusion that acting was about grimacing and waving your arms all over the place. And of course there is that illogical narrative. This film might have had some impact had it highlighted some more realistic perils of drinking – showing David Miles sprawling in a gutter while his family go hungry, for instance. Instead, the message appears to be "Drink too much, and through a series of highly unlikely twists you could end up shooting your daughter in the head". At the end, Miles clutches his head and gesticulates wildly, just in case you hadn't yet grasped he was a bit upset.

Griffith may be starting to probe a little in new directions, but What Drink Did is in itself simply dire.

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