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Gretchen the Greenhorn (1916)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 3 September 1916 (USA)
A kindly Dutch immigrant and her bumbling father are blackmailed by a gang of counterfeiters.


Chester M. Franklin (as C.M. Franklin), Sidney Franklin (as S.A. Franklin)


Bernard McConville (story)


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Complete credited cast:
Dorothy Gish ... Gretchen Van Houck
Ralph Lewis ... Jan Van Houck
Eugene Pallette ... Rodgers
Elmo Lincoln ... Mystery Ship Captain
Frank Bennett Frank Bennett ... Pietro
Georgie Stone ... Little Nicky Garrity
Kate Bruce ... Widow Garrity


Gretchen Van Houck is just arriving in the USA, on a ship from Holland. She joins her father, who has already spent several years in America, where he owns an engraving business. In the tenement community where the Van Houcks live, there are residents of many nationalities. Gretchen soon becomes close friends with Pietro, a popular resident, and she also takes an interest in the widow Garrity and her children. Another resident, Rogers, is more mysterious. One day Rogers tells Mr. Van Houck that he could help him get a job printing money for the government. Van Houck eagerly agrees to try, but when he finds out what Rogers is really doing, he is placed in a painful dilemma. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Romance


Not Rated






Release Date:

3 September 1916 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Gretchen Blunders In See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Fine Arts Film Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(2004 National Film Preservation Foundation print)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One of the films in the 3-disk boxed DVD set called "More Treasures from American Film Archives (2004)", compiled by the National Film Preservation Foundation from 5 American film archives. This film is preserved by the UCLA Film and Television Archives, has a running time of 58 minutes and an added piano score. See more »

Crazy Credits

Except for Dorothy Gish whose name appears above the title, actors were not originally credited in this movie at the start or at the end. Instead, 6 additional actors and their character names are credited in the intertitles right before they appear on-screen and are listed in the same order in the IMDb cast. All other actors, most of whom were obtained from other printed publications, are marked uncredited. See more »

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User Reviews

Well-Crafted, Compassionate Drama
28 March 2005 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

This recently recovered drama is very enjoyable to watch, both because it is well-crafted and because it treats its cast of immigrant characters in such a compassionate and thoughtful way. The tenement block atmosphere is convincing, and Chester and Sidney Franklin use it to create a believable world filled with believable characters.

The characters are endearing, and although they are all quite uncomplicated, they are easy to care about. The Franklin brothers present them in an honest yet caring way. The various national backgrounds are generally identified with the most obvious of symbols, yet this comes across well, because the audience is meant to care about them simply because they are honest, innocent men and women, not because they are brilliant or heroic. The one weakness that most of them share is their naiveté – as implied by the title – and this is hardly a censurable quality.

Dorothy Gish makes the most of her starring role as Gretchen, and she fits the part well. Ralph Lewis is also good as her father. Eugene Palette – looking younger and thinner than in his best-known roles – works quite well as the villainous Rogers, making particularly good use of his gestures and expressions to connote his character's nature.

The Franklins film it in what is now a rather old-fashioned style – in particular, lots of 'iris' shots – but it fits the material pretty well. and the story is told well without relying on clichés or contrivances. There is one particularly good sequence of cross-cutting, when an idyllic, innocent date between Gretchen and Pietro is contrasted with Rogers carrying out one of his malicious, deceitful schemes.

Overall, this works quite well and has also held up well. It's a feature worth seeing for anyone who enjoys silent dramas.

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