King Vidor. Lillian Gish. John Gilbert. A winning combination.
King Vidor is certainly one of the best American directors ever (I count Hitchcock as English).
Lillian Gish was one of the best actresses of the silent, or any era. Eve, we want Gish stories! (You are absolutely unforgiven if you haven’t seen this)
A glorious adaptation of a simple Puccini opera, I have placed it on my top ten in replacement of The Crowd.
What can be said? Simple, moving, extraordinary.
(I HATE Robert Osbourne.)
Of course I’ve seen it—I have 40-some letters from Miss Lillian in my mother’s strongbox (we were friends for the last 20 years of her life). In her memoirs, Miss Lillian said Jack Gilbert fell madly in love with her, as he did with all of his leading ladies, and she led him quite a chase (Miss Lillian was not so much straight or gay, as Just Not Interested).
Me, I’d have done Jack Gilbert here, there or anywhere.
Note poor Renée Adorée in the cast—she died a few years later of the same disease that claimed Mimi in the film.
I had always suspected Miss Lillian and her longtime friend Nell Dorr were an item, but her very reliable biographer Charles Affron says she had a long-term affair with critic George Jean Nathan.
Our letters were usually of the chatty what’s-going-on-now variety. I think one of the reasons she liked me was I wasn’t always asking her the same damn questions about Film History she got bombarded with all the time.
The problem with Miss Lillian is that she was a Prestige Star. Everyone agreed that she was one of the most talented and dedicated actresses of her day–but she never drew the box office money that Garbo or Clara Bow or Norma Talmadge did.