AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Lillian Gish (1984)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Legendary actress Lillian Gish is the guest as she receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. serves as host and starts off by talking how Gish has pretty much been in movies since the format really took off. From here we have a wide range of guests paying tribute to Gish including Sally Field, John Huston, Jeanne Moreau, Robert Mitchum, George Stevens. Jr., Lily Tomlin, Richard Widmark, Colleen Moore, Eva Marie Saint, Richard Tomas and Jennifer Jones among others. Fans of Gish are certainly going to enjoy this tribute and fans of silent cinema are really going to enjoy the tribute to them. It's funny hearing Gish talk about how she hopes silent movies would come back and just wait until you hear the audience reaction to the ending of WAY DOWN EAST. Mitchum tells a great story about him questioning Charles Laughton when he learned Gish was hired for the part of the protector. Huston tells a touching story about his father working with Gish and also states that the evening is not only a tribute to the actress but also D.W. Griffith. Speaking of Griffith, it's great to hear the respect he's shown here, which certainly isn't the case when he's discussed today, which is a real shame. Carl Davis also plays the score to the various silent film clips that are shown and the work is quite remarkable. Fans of Gish will certainly want to check out this tribute as it really is one of the last love letters to silent cinema until more recent times.
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