A young wife and her musician husband live in poverty in a New York City tenement. The husband's job requires him to go away for for a number of days. On his return, he is robbed by the ... See full summary »
When her father becomes ill, a young woman takes over the telegraph at a lonely western railroad station. She soon gets word that the next train will deliver the payroll for a mining ... See full summary »
Francis J. Grandon
A gang of thieves lure a man out of his home so that they can rob it and threaten his wife and children. The family barricade themselves in an interior room, but the criminals are ... See full summary »
In this story set at a seaside fishing village and inspired by a Charles Kingsley poem, a young couple's happy life is turned about by an accident. The husband, although saved from drowning... See full summary »
Arthur V. Johnson,
While caring for his sick daughter, a doctor is called away to the sickbed of a neighbor. He finds the neighbor gravely ill, and ignores his wife's pleas to come home and care for his own daughter, who has taken a turn for the worse.
A fireman rushes into a carriage to rescue a woman from a house fire. Breaks the window glasses and he goes down with the woman. After dangerous and uncertain moments, the fireman save the woman' s son, too.
George S. Fleming,
Edwin S. Porter
Edwin S. Porter,
In this spectacular free adaptation of the popular theatre play "La Biche au Bois", the valiant Prince Bel-Azor pursues a baleful old witch to her impregnable castle, to save the beautiful young Princess Azurine.
On a warm and sunny summer's day, a mother and father take their young daughter Dollie on a riverside outing. A gypsy basket peddler happens along, and is angered when the mother refuses to... See full summary »
Arthur V. Johnson,
A greedy tycoon decides, on a whim, to corner the world market in wheat. This doubles the price of bread, forcing the grain's producers into charity lines and further into poverty. The film continues to contrast the ironic differences between the lives of those who work to grow the wheat and the life of the man who dabbles in its sale for profit.Written by
James Meek <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film is posted online to the Library of Congress' National Screening Room. See more »
When the Wheat King reads the letter regarding his increase in wealth, he is wearing gloves. After he falls into the wheat pit, there is an un-gloved hand reaching for the heavens; however, when they pull him out, he is once again wearing gloves. See more »
(Note: This is the first of three short films by D.W. Griffith that I care to highlight by commenting on them. The others are "The Girl and Her Trust" and "The Battle at Elderbush Gulch".)
D.W. Griffith usually made only three types of films: melodramas, social commentary and suspense (usually either battle scenes or the last-minute rescue, or both). His features often contain all three genres. His films were often set during the Victorian age or the Civil War era, or some other turning point in American history. His films of modern setting drip of Victorian sentiments. Mostly, his films were theatrical (the stories, interior shots and acting, most consistently). Griffith's films are categorical because he, apparently, rarely used scripts and was the rare filmmaker that interacted with the scenarists, and thus invented the role of director.
"A Corner in Wheat" is simple: it is social commentary. Based on a Frank Norris story, the anti-monopoly narrative fits with a recurrent theme of Griffith's films--sympathy for the poor. (It's rather hypocritical, however, considering that Griffith worked for a member of the Motion Picture Patents Company.) The story, albeit better than its contemporaries, is not of much interest, or, rather, is not why I highlighted this short film.
In 1903, Edwin S. Porter crosscut scenes out of temporal order in "The Great Train Robbery". Parallel-action crosscutting as dissection of a scene with spatially separate actions appeared as early as 1907 in Pathé and Vitagraph films. The crosscutting in "A Corner in Wheat" is exceptional because it functions as contrast between the wheat magnate's dinner party and the wheat farmers not being able to afford bread at a market. I'm not sure who helped Griffith with the editing, but it was probably James Smith, as usual. The parallel editing is appropriately slow paced, so again in the comeuppance dénouement. As well, the final shot was a good attempt at poignancy. The rest of the photoplay, especially the camera positioning, is primitive.
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