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As It Is in Life (1910)

 |  Drama, Short  |  4 April 1910 (USA)
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A grief stricken widowed man, devotes his life to caring and providing for his very young daughter. He quickly secures a job at a nearby pigeon farm. One day he runs into an old sweetheart,... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
George Nichols ...
George Forrester
Gladys Egan ...
George Forrester's Daughter, as a Child
George Forrester's Daughter, as an Adult
Marion Leonard ...
George Forrester's Sweetheart
Charles West ...
George Forrester's Son-in-Law
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kate Bruce ...
The Maid
William J. Butler
W. Chrystie Miller ...
An Old Man
Anthony O'Sullivan ...
Worker on Farm
Frank Opperman ...
The Daughter's Husband's Companion
Owner of a Pigeon Farm (unconfirmed)


A grief stricken widowed man, devotes his life to caring and providing for his very young daughter. He quickly secures a job at a nearby pigeon farm. One day he runs into an old sweetheart, but he soon realizes he cannot support a wife and his child too, so he sacrifices his own happiness for his daughter. Years later his daughter returns from school a young woman. She promises her father that she will never leave him. Then one day a young man turns her fancy, and they are both smitten with each other. As they meet secretly, her father finds out and angrily confronts the young man. His daughter explains she is in love and they are going to get married. Heartbroken, the father leaves, not wanting to see them again. A year later, the daughter has a baby of her own. With her husband always busy, she becomes very lonely. Missing her father, she visits him and places the baby in his arms. Upon seeing his daughter and grandchild he is immediately restored with joy and happiness. Written by Pamela Short

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Short





Release Date:

4 April 1910 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Featured in Mary Pickford: A Life on Film (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

"Choose between us"
6 February 2009 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

This sweet and simple Biograph short comes from the middle period in Griffith's career at the studio. Having spent most of 1909 developing his handling of action, he now began to turn his attention more and more to drama and poignancy.

Like many Griffith shorts from this period (see, for example The Unchanging Sea or The House with Closed Shutters), the story of As It Is in Life spans years and generations in its single-reel runtime. This cramming of lives into minutes can be a bit much, but Griffith's tactic in these cases (and it is particularly well-demonstrated here) is to familiarise us with a small number of locations and camera set-ups. Each of these has a particular context and can be used repeatedly down the years, as it were. As It Is in Life has three principle settings – the porch, the pigeon farm and the sweetheart's meeting place. In particular, the use of the latter for both the father's aborted romance and then the grown-up daughter's courtship makes the point that history is being repeated. The pigeon farm provides a unique and poetic backdrop for the tenderest moments between father and daughter, a sign of the increasing aestheticism of Griffith's work.

Although the Biograph shorts had made big strides towards naturalistic acting performances in the past year or so, there are still a few pantomimey exaggerated moments. However it's actually Griffith's arrangements and the fact that there were still a few problems of visual grammar that he had yet to iron out that are most jarring. When the father discovers his daughter with her young man – supposedly unobserved – he is in fact blundering about a few feet from them, which looks ridiculous. Fathers spying on lovers is a recurring image in Griffith's films, and they continue to do it from the same frame right up until 1914's The Avenging Conscience. It seems it was only in his longer features that Griffith learned to handle multiple camera set-ups in larger spaces.

Griffith's fascination for the generation-spanning short drama would only last another year or so. Really, the only excellent example of these that I have seen in Enoch Arden, and that at least was spread over too reels. For the most part his greatest one-reelers were tight, concentrated and focused.

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