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Way Down East (1920)

 -  Drama | Romance  -  3 September 1920 (USA)
8.0
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Reviews: 43 user | 22 critic

A naive country girl is tricked into a sham marriage by a wealthy womanizer, then must rebuild her life despite the taint of having borne a child out of wedlock.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Mrs. David Landau ...
Lowell Sherman ...
Burr McIntosh ...
Josephine Bernard ...
Mrs. Emma Tremont
Mrs. Morgan Belmont ...
Diana Tremont
Patricia Fruen ...
Diana's Sister
Florence Short ...
The Eccentric Aunt
Kate Bruce ...
Mrs. Bartlett
Vivia Ogden ...
Porter Strong ...
George Neville ...
Constable Rube Whipple
Edgar Nelson ...
Mary Hay ...
Kate Brewster - the Squire's Niece
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Storyline

The callous rich, portrayed by Lennox, think only of their own pleasure. Anna is but a poor country girl whom Lennox tricks into a fake wedding. She believes that it is true, but secret, while he has his way with her. When she is pregnant, he leaves her and she must have the baby, named Trust Lennox, on her own. When the baby dies she wanders until she gets a job with Squire Bartlett. David falls for her, but she rejects him due to her past and then Lennox shows up lusting for Kate. Seeing Anna, he tries to get her to leave, but she doesn't, and she tells no one about his past. When Squire Bartlett learns of her past from Martha, the town gossip, he tosses Anna out in a snow storm. But before she goes, she fingers the respected Lennox, as the father of her dead baby and the spoiler of herself. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A simple story for plain people.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

3 September 1920 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mädchenlos  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$700,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1931 re-release) | (Alpha Video)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Billy Bitzer, D.W. Griffith was frostbitten on one side of his face during the shooting, and it bothered him the rest of his life. See more »

Quotes

Anna Moore: This man, an honored guest at your table, why don't you find out what HIS life has been?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Star Power: The Creation of United Artists (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Simple Story Of Plain People
28 September 2004 | by (Forest Ranch, CA) – See all my reviews

A young woman, after being lured into a false marriage, finds the chance for happiness on a friendly farm WAY DOWN EAST.

David Wark Griffith, the Father of American Cinema, had his last great financial blockbuster with this highly sentimentalized silent melodrama. Always anxious to promote decency & morality with his epic films, Griffith here exposes & castigates male brutality against the weaker female, making this a stark portrayal of Good versus Evil as he follows the fortunes and misfortunes of his long-suffering heroine.

Bird-like & fragile, Lillian Gish takes the brunt of the plot upon her young shoulders. To say that she performs magnificently is only to state the expected. The wealth of emotions stealing across her lovely face give expression to her every thought, as her character struggles to maintain her equilibrium against the onslaughts hurled against her.

Richard Barthelmess portrays the quietly heroic farm lad who becomes paladin for Miss Gish during her tribulations while abiding in his home. His stalwart decency is in strong contrast to the villainy of Lowell Sherman, the rich roué whose misdeeds nearly destroy Lillian.

Griffith's broad canvas allows for detailed portraits by a fine supporting cast: a pharisaical squire (Burr McIntosh), his saintly wife (Kate Bruce), a butterfly-chasing professor (Creighton Hale), a dour landlady (Emily Fitzroy), a lazy, good-natured constable (George Neville), a jolly, oafish farmhand (Edgar Nelson), and a gossiping spinster (Vivia Ogden).

The film climaxes with one of the most famous sequences in all of Silent Cinema: Barthelmess' rescue of Miss Gish as she lies unconscious on an ice floe, speeding towards a tremendous waterfall. Filmed on Long Island in the dead of Winter, the performers were in real peril. These scenes still pack a punch and are worthy testimony to Griffith's genius.

Special mention should be made of the cinematography of G. W. Bitzer, Griffith's invaluable cameraman. His beautiful photography softly illumines both the tender scenes and the bucolic vistas, giving them the quality of aged snapshots in a cherished family album.


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