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Lydia Yeamans Titus,
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Susie, a plain young country girl, secretly loves a neighbor boy, William. She believes in him and sacrifices much of her own happiness to promote his own ambitions, all without his knowledge. Eventually he rises to a position of success and sophistication, and Susie realizes that she has through her own efforts raised him to a level where he is inaccessible to her. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Lillian Gish (as True Heart Susie) is an ordinary country girl; she is in love with typical "boy-next-door" Robert Harron (as William Roberts). The film begins with a series of seemingly silly, sentimental, and hopelessly old-fashioned observations about the relationships between men and women like "True Heart Susie" and "William Roberts". Director D.W. Griffith astutely notes, "Of course they don't know what poor simple idiots they are -- and, we, who have never been so foolish, an hardly hope to understand "
You can tell, early on, that minister-to-be Harron is not really interested, romantically, in Gish. Harron prefers the "kind" of woman later idealized by Clarine Seymour (as Bettina). Ms. Seymour leads a fine supporting cast, as the painted and partying "other woman". Gish tries "power and stockings", but it is not in her character. When she accidentally chances upon Harron and Seymour kissing, Gish realizes circumstances are beyond her control, and Harron is lost to her -- this is followed by an incredible close-up of Gish, which defies description.
With "True Heart Susie", director Griffith and company achieve "non-epic" perfection. In its own way, the film is as "epic" as the director's "Intolerance" (1916). Ms. Gish and Mr. Harron are superb, as usual; though they are young adults, they are thoroughly convincing as opening-scene schoolchildren. The performances are almost outerworldly; especially, after Harron expresses discontent, and Gish reacts. Gish's reactions are particularly amazing; in fact, this may be her most supreme silent-era achievement, besting her own performance in the recently released "Broken Blossoms" (1919). If "Best Actress" awards were given out in 1919, Lillian Gish's "True Heart Susie" might have won over her own lead performance in "Broken Blossoms".