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Way Down East (1920)

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.

Director:

D.W. Griffith

Writers:

Lottie Blair Parker (from the play by), William A. Brady (play) (as Wm. A. Brady) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lillian Gish ... Anna Moore
Richard Barthelmess ... David Bartlett
Mrs. David Landau Mrs. David Landau ... Anna Moore's Mother
Lowell Sherman ... Lennox Sanderson
Burr McIntosh ... Squire Bartlett
Josephine Bernard Josephine Bernard ... Mrs. Emma Tremont
Mrs. Morgan Belmont Mrs. Morgan Belmont ... Diana Tremont
Patricia Fruen Patricia Fruen ... Diana's Sister
Florence Short Florence Short ... The Eccentric Aunt
Kate Bruce ... Mrs. Bartlett
Vivia Ogden Vivia Ogden ... Martha Perkins
Porter Strong Porter Strong ... Seth Holcomb
George Neville George Neville ... Constable Rube Whipple
Edgar Nelson ... Hi Holler
Mary Hay 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 story of laughter- Rabelaisian horseplay. (Print Ad- Urbana Daily Democrat, ((Urbana, Ohio)) 5 December 1921) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

3 September 1920 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mädchenlos See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$700,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$4,500,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

D.W. Griffith Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The ice floes seen at the climax drifting above and going over the waterfall were actually wood constructions, as the scene was shot out of season. The waterfall itself was only a few feet high, going no further down than what is seen at the bottom of the film frame. See more »

Quotes

Lennox Sanderson: I can't have you around here where I live! Suppose they find out about your past life? You'd have to get out then!
Anna Moore: Suppose they find out about YOUR past life!
Lennox Sanderson: Oh, it's different with a MAN! He's supposed to sow his wild oats.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Griffith knew his stuff
4 December 2006 | by rensamuelsSee all my reviews

I just finished watching Way Down East. It was extremely powerful and moving. Gish is at her best, and while she may take getting used to if you've never seen her before, because she is a bit twittery, she is also a unique beauty with enormously expressive eyes and nervous mannerisms that make her perfect in this role as the poor innocent done wrong by the sophisticated older man. Like they say, the story's as old as the hills, and I was surprised but pleased at the happy ending, considering she had a baby out of wedlock--usually women were punished in the old films, even if it wasn't their fault. Little things like Richard Barthelmess petting a pigeon on the head, blossoms bouncing gently in the breeze, the play of light at sunset through Gish's hair as she stands by the river.... There's an appreciation of the beauty of nature and the gentle aspects of the human soul that's not much seen anymore. Just watching the men haying in the fields, the old barn dance, a horse and sled heading down a long avenue of tall trees is a pleasure, a record of days gone by that we don't get much chance to see anywhere else. Of course Gish floating down the river on the ice in the denouement is a classic. I highly recommend this film to any sensitive movie-lover.


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