6.6/10
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22 user 7 critic

A Corner in Wheat (1909)

An unscrupulous and greedy capitalist speculator decides to corner the wheat market for his own profit, establishing complete control over the markets.

Director:

D.W. Griffith
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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Frank Powell ... The Wheat King
Grace Henderson Grace Henderson ... The Wheat King's Wife
James Kirkwood ... The Farmer
Linda Arvidson ... The Farmer's Wife
W. Chrystie Miller ... The Farmer's Father
Gladys Egan ... The Farmer's Little Daughter
Henry B. Walthall ... The Wheat King's Assistant
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Storyline

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 <james@oz.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 December 1909 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A gabonatőzsde spekulánsai See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Biograph Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is posted online to the Library of Congress' National Screening Room. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Connections

Featured in WALL·E (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

Griffith: Parallels
11 August 2004 | by CineanalystSee all my reviews

(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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