On the day of the dog feast at the Indian encampment, the waifs arrived at Elderbush Gulch. Their pet pups came with them. '"Now we eat," said the chief's son, when he saw the pup's fat little hides, but he met his death instead. "The blood of the whites," cried the red men, and all on account of two small dogs, the settlement at Elderbush Gulch was wiped from the map. Yet many strong hearts lived to tell the tale, along with the dogs, the waifs and the baby.Written by
Moving Picture World synopsis
In 1972 Kemp Niver and Historical Films of Los Angeles published 'D. W. Griffith's The Battle of Elderbush Gulch,' a reconstruction of the film from frame enlargements. See more »
In the 1920s, the Aywon Film Corporation distributed a 37 minute version; the added length is due to the editing and new titling by M.G. Cohn and J.F. Natteford. This version includes extended opening credits and added intertitles in the style of 1920s titling. See more »
It's hard to imagine that "The Battle of Elderbush Gulch", directed by the legendary D.W. Griffith, was made a way back in 1914. It is a showcase for Griffith's emerging style.
The story centers around a group of settlers called the Cameron Brothers and their families which include a young waif (Mae Marsh) sent out from the east to live with her uncles and a young wife (Lillian Gish) who has just given birth. A group of Indians tries to capture the waif's pet dogs and are driven off by the men folk. During the confrontation the Indian Chief's son (Henry B. Wathall) is killed. The Indian chief plots his revenge and launches an attack on the small community of Elderbush Gulch.
It is this attack, which is quite brutal and graphic for this or any other time, that forms the core of the picture. The Indians slaughter the towns folk, women and children alike and drive them out of town towards the Cameron's homestead. The newborn baby becomes separated from its mother and all hell breaks loose. Someone goes for help and returns in the nick of time with the calvary.
The battle scenes contain some graphic violence. For example, we see a woman being scalped alive and there is also a sequence where we see a horse being shot down. I have never seen an animal being slain so convincingly on screen. Mr.Griffith was becoming a master of staging large scale battle scenes, a talent that he would use extensively in his epic Civil War drama, "The Birth of a Nation" released the following year.
Even though it runs a scant 29 minutes, "The Battle of Elderbush Gulch" is nonetheless an exciting and historic bit of film making. See if you can spot Lionel Barrymore and Harry Carey in bit parts.
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