True Heart Susie (silent)
In 1918-1919, D. W. Griffith turned from spectacles such as The Birth of a Nation, Intolerance and Hearts of the World to smaller films, which he called his "short story series." Among these is True Heart Susie. "There are those of us who consider True Heart Susie to be Griffith's masterpiece," writes Tom Gunning in his notes for a 2006 screening at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival. He goes on to praise the "narrative structure and point of view, as well as the fine details of performance, framing, and even the use of intertitles that makes a seemingly modest film such as this appear nearly incandescent in its confessional and emotional power." In an almost mythical American arcadia, Lillian Gish portrays a pure, prim girl who so loves her childhood sweetheart (Griffith's most charming boyish hero, Robert Harron) that she sells the family cow to anonymously finance his higher education, only to lose him to a more "modern" woman (Clarine Seymour) when he comes home. Gish's performance is among her best, her face what Gunning calls a "battleground of emotions, staging complete and progressive dramas of realization, recognition and despair."