Calendar

11/23/2019

The Music Box Cinema presents Way Down East starring Lillian Gish, + live music by Cliff Retallick

7:30 p.m. - 10:00 pm

Woman's Club of Hollywood, 1749 North LaBrea Avenue, Hollywood, California 90046

Event Details

11/23/2019

The Music Box Cinema presents Way Down East starring Lillian Gish, + live music by Cliff Retallick

Way Down East, a legendary silent film event that lives up to its reputation, was the top box office grossing movie of 1920 and the biggest hit of Lillian Gish’s career. It is best remembered for its famous ice floe sequence, filmed during a real Vermont blizzard, with Gish and co-star Richard Barthelmess performing their own stunts.  

Gish later claimed that, as a result of her own idea of letting her hand and hair trail in the freezing water as she floated downriver on a sheet of ice, part of her hair froze and snapped off in the water, and her right hand was impaired for the rest of her life. The end result was one of the most iconic images of silent cinema.  

Way Down East was based on one of the most popular plays in American history, which toured the United States for thousands of performances at the turn of the nineteenth century. Although already considered hokey and old fashioned by 1920, master director D.W. Griffith infused his film version with such cinematic mastery that it became one of his most popular and critically acclaimed successes.  

The stunningly beautiful Gish, considered by many the greatest actress of the silent era, superbly plays Anna Moore, who is fooled into a sham marriage and loses her child in a heartbreaking scene. When her employer, Squire Bartlett (Burr McIntosh), learns of this shameful episode in her past, he drives her from his home into a blinding snowstorm. Bartlett’s son, David (Barthelmess, also excellent) races to her rescue.

The highlight of the film is the riveting, beautifully photographed climactic scene on the frozen river, still justifiably praised as one of the most effective sequences in silent film history. Don’t miss this rare chance to see Way Down East, a monument to the artistry of the silent movie era, projected from real film, courtesy of the USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive. At the Music Box Cinema at the historic Woman’s Club of Hollywood, with live piano accompaniment plus a live music show produced by Retroformat Musical Director Cliff Retallick. 

7:30 p.m. - 10:00 pm

Woman's Club of Hollywood, 1749 North LaBrea Avenue, Hollywood, California 90046