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One Is Business, the Other Crime (1912)

Griffith intercuts between the lives of two couples married on the same day. One couple is rich, the other is poor. Time passes, and in desperation over joblessness, the poor husband ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Charles West ...
Poor Husband
Dorothy Bernard ...
Poor Wife
...
Rich Husband
...
Rich Wife
Frank Evans ...
The Landlord
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Storyline

Griffith intercuts between the lives of two couples married on the same day. One couple is rich, the other is poor. Time passes, and in desperation over joblessness, the poor husband attempts to burgle a home, only to be captured a gunpoint by the mistress of the house. It is the home of the rich couple. While holding the poor intruder at gunpoint, the rich wife accidently discovers evidence implicating her own husband in a bribery scheme . . . Written by Thomas McWilliams <tgm@netcom.com>

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Short | Drama

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25 April 1912 (USA)  »

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1.37 : 1
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"Poverty's desperation"
3 July 2008 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

This is another of DW Griffith's occasional social commentary pieces, in which he contrasts the experience of the very poor with that of the very rich. The focus in this point in his career however is very much on the individual characters rather than the broad social sweep.

As the title suggests, the comparison is very clear-cut and direct. In the opening scenes he makes good use of space, with the shape of the poor couple's home making it look exceptionally cramped. As in Female of the Species he's experimenting with moving faces into the foreground, although here it doesn't work quite so well, with heads too close to the bottom of the frame, and not enough decent facial acting to make it worthwhile.

The middle section of the film is weak, verging on ridiculous. This is one of those occasional DW Griffith resolutions that just strains credibility too much. Over-the-top melodrama can be great sometimes, but here it's not. It actually makes me laugh that, after the wealthy couple have forgiven and released the burglar, he still leaves through the window. Surely they'd let him use the door?

This is followed however by a virtuoso Griffith moment. With some spot on crosscutting, he parallels the actions of the despondent poor man with the soul-searching of the rich man. There is also some very good use of lighting in this scene, which is surprising as this is one of the few areas of film technique Griffith never really played with much.

One is Business, the Other Crime is an incredibly uneven work, brilliant in some places, daft in others, and too many intertitles throughout. However, there really does seem to be no such thing as a terrible Griffith picture by this point, and it does contain enough good elements to make it worth watching.


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