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His Trust: The Faithful Devotion and Self-Sacrifice of an Old Negro Servant (1911)

A Confederate officer is called off to war. He leaves his wife and daughter in the care of George, his faithful Negro servant. After the officer is killed in an exciting battle sequence, ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
George
Dell Henderson ...
Colonel Frazier
...
Colonel Frazier's Wife
...
The Fraziers' Child
...
The Daughter as an Adult
Harry Hyde ...
The Daughter's Sweetheart
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Dorothy Bernard
Kate Bruce
Grace Henderson
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Storyline

A Confederate officer is called off to war. He leaves his wife and daughter in the care of George, his faithful Negro servant. After the officer is killed in an exciting battle sequence, George continues in his caring duties, faithful to his trust. Events continue to turn for the worse when invading Yankee soldiers arrive to loot and torch the widow's home. George saves the officer's daughter and battle sword by braving the flames. Written by Thomas McWilliams <tgm@netcom.com>

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Short | Drama | War

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16 January 1911 (USA)  »

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His Trust  »

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1.33 : 1
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Referenced in The Birth of a Nation (1915) See more »

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User Reviews

Of Film Historcal Importance
9 April 2006 | by See all my reviews

"His Trust" was the fourth of Griffith's seven Civil War Shorts. Actually there were only six, "His Trust" was the only two-reeler and against Griffith's wishes Biograph released it serially, calling the second reel "His Trust Fulfilled". It lacks the charm of the remaining five shorts and is painfully cornball in comparison to most of Griffith's Biograph work.

Wilfred Lucus (in blackface) plays George, a faithful Negro servant entrusted by his owner with the welfare of his wife and young daughter when he goes off to fight for the South. Predictibly the owner dies in a nicely staged battle sequence, union soldiers burn the mansion in a poorly staged arson sequence, and George rescues the daughter and his master's sword. The daughter grows up in George's cabin. In the second reel George pays for her education at a seminary, and resists the temptation to steal when his money runs out. She eventually marries her "cousin" (seriously) and George gets to keep the sword.

Although a rather weak story, "His Trust" is significant for several reasons. It's subject, a southern family reduced to poverty by the war mirrors Griffith's own situation. Griffith's father served in Kentucky's "Orphan Brigade" during the Civil War and the family never really recovered from the financial setbacks that resulted.

It's hero, a "good Negro", is portrayed affectionately-if somewhat patronizingly; a precursor of what was to come in "Birth of a Nation".

Finally, "His Trust" was Griffith's first foray outside the world of single reel shorts. Griffith was pressing Biograph for funding to do longer films. Other studios had already released the five reel "Life of Moses", a four reel "Les Miserables", and a three reel version of "Uncle Tom's Cabin". Biograph's resistance to the concept of longer films would eventually be a factor in Griffith's split with his original studio, a production house that owed its #1 reputation to Griffith's vision and innovation.

Even in 1910 Griffith seemingly had grasped the change that was taking place as feature length films would not be released serially but would play as extended showings in legitimate theaters.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.


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