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The Girl and Her Trust (1912)

 -  Short | Drama  -  28 March 1912 (USA)
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Some tramps assault the telegraph office trying to rob $2000 delivered by train. The telegraphist girl, trying to help, telegraphs the next station and then the men are captured.



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Credited cast:
Dorothy Bernard ...
Grace, the Telegraph Operator
Wilfred Lucas ...
Jack, Railroad Express Agent
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Edwin August ...
Younger Tramp
Christy Cabanne ...
Baggage Handler (as W. Christy Cabanne)
William A. Carroll ...
Charles Gorman ...
Older Tramp, Next to Train
Telegrapher's Companion / Remote Station Worker
Walter Long ...
Grace's Bashful Suitor
Charles Hill Mailes ...
Remote Telegraph Operator
Anthony O'Sullivan ...
Alfred Paget ...
W.C. Robinson ...
Simple Suitor
Charles West ...


Some tramps assault the telegraph office trying to rob $2000 delivered by train. The telegraphist girl, trying to help, telegraphs the next station and then the men are captured. Written by Michel Rudoy <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Short | Drama





Release Date:

28 March 1912 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Heltens Lokomotiv  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When the 2 tramps are taking the express trunk for the station, it is dark outside when they open the door. Looking through the window next to the door, it is light outside. It's also light outside when tramps get outside of the station. The same happens when the telegraph operator leaves the station. See more »


Remake of The Lonedale Operator (1911) See more »

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User Reviews

Griffith: Tracking Shots
11 August 2004 | by See all my reviews

This is as good a film as any to track the development of editing and camera placement in early narrative short films. "The Girl and Her Trust" has the same story outline as, at least, three other Griffith shorts: "Lonely Villa", "The Lonedale Operator" and "An Unseen Enemy". All four are last-minute rescue suspense films, with few differences between them. They all result in the setup of a girl, or a few girls, locked in a room separate from thieves stealing money; the girl uses a phone, or telegraph, to call men for help. I don't know why any of the ditzes never thought of escaping out a window. At least in "The Girl and Her Trust", there's the malarkey about her fulfilling her "trust".

By no means did Griffith invent this sub-genre; he mastered it with rapid editing. It's futile to attempt to exact the beginning of the sub-genre, but the aforementioned films, especially "Lonely Villa", are remakes of a 1908 Pathé film, "The Physician of the Castle". Suspense is absent in that film; there are only 26 shots in its 6 minutes. Biograph released "Lonely Villa" the following year, and there are approximately twice as many shots in its 9 minutes. In 1912, Biograph released "The Girl and Her Trust", which has almost as many shots as the 119 that appear in the subsequent film, "An Unseen Enemy". Furthermore, Keystone parodies (such as "The Bangville Police" and "Barney Oldfield's Race for a Life") of Griffith's last-minute rescue pictures displayed even rapider, if choppy, editing.

The reason for the additional number of shots has as much to do with staging and additional crosscutting as it does with drawn-out lengths. First, Griffith had criminals and innocents in separate rooms of the setting of the crime; crosscutting between rooms prevented plots from being dull, as he stretched suspense for longer lengths. Then, there's extended crosscutting between the crime and rescuers. Indoor shooting is also Griffith's greatest weakness; he never would get past the theatricality of a missing wall.

"The Girl and Her Trust" has the benefit of taking more of the action outside, as the girl must follow the criminals to fulfill her trust. Outside, Griffith and Billy Bitzer trucked the camera beside a moving train, creating a trademark tracking shot they'd return to in "Intolerance". There's also an overhead angled tracking shot of the criminals and Dorothy Bernard on a handcar. With such innovation and time and space constraints, however, Griffith made the fallacy of not respecting the axis of action (the train goes right, and then goes left, but it's supposed to be the same direction). That can disrupt suspense. Lastly, Griffith rarely, if ever, used medium shots and close-ups in his early films. By 1912, every Griffith film had them.

(Note: This is one of three short films by D.W. Griffith that I've commented on, with some arrangement in mind. The other films are "A Corner in Wheat" and "The Battle at Elderbush Gulch".)

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