Greta Garbo

Friday, May 31, 2019

Scott Lord Silent Film: The New York Hat (D.W. Griffith, Biograph)


Directed by D.W. Griffith, the film features the first photoplay written by Anita Loos. Subsequently, Loos was to write the scenarios and screenplays to films which starred Douglas Fairbanks. The New Movie Magazine during 1930 nostalgically related that the film had also introduced Lionel Barrymore to the screen and that Loos, who had only been sixteen years old at the time of its release, had received “the large sum of $15” for writing the film.
In the short scenes of Griffith’s film, Mary Pickford is shown to the right of the screen in medium close shot, trying on a hat, her hands and elbows shown in the frame. Griffith cuts on the action of her leaving the frame to exterior shots. In a later scene, Griffith positions her to the left of the screen, and, his already having shown time having elapsed between the two scenes, then brings the action back to the right of the screen frame. As an early reversal of screen direction, or screen positioning, there is the use of screen editing in between the complimentary positions of showing her in the same interior. During the film the actress is, almost referentially, often kept in profile, facing to the right of the screen. Although Griffith may have been still developing editing techniques, it has been noted that the acting style in the film can be seen as an example of a more naturalistic and less histrionic acting style than that of other contemporary films.

Silent Film

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