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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Bobby Harron Double Feature.29 Aug. 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
While the focus of this DVD is on actresses Lillian Gish and Mae Marsh, it is Robert (Bobby) Harron who is of prime interest to me after watching these two films. Harron is best known for his role in Griffith's INTOLERANCE as the young man who is falsely imprisoned in the Modern Story (also with Mae Marsh). He also appears briefly but memorably in BIRTH OF A NATION as Lillian Gish's younger brother. Having recently rewatched that along with these movies I have come away with a much greater appreciation of his talent which makes his tragic death in 1920 at the age of 27 even more so. Harron whether conciously or not was a master of body language. Watch his character in SUSIE as he goes from awkward schoolboy to small town minister. The awkwardness remains but he subtly changes throughout which fits the role perfectly. Then check out his turn in HOODOO ANN where he's still shy but not awkward at all.
Actresses Gish and Marsh are given the opportunity to really inhabit their characters which they do with an ease and naturalness that belies their years of experience. They make it seem fresh even though they have played these types of roles many times. There are many great scenes throughout SUSIE which also features the ill-fated Clarine Seymour who would also die in 1920 at the age of only 21 and we get an early glimpse of Carol Dempster who would dominate Griffith's films (and his private life) in the 1920's. Several scenes in HOODOO including the burning of the orphanage and Harron and Marsh at the movies are quite memorable. The prints while not restored are in very good shape (especially SUSIE) although it's something of a puzzle that I have yet to see a fully restored D.W. Griffith film.
My one minor quibble is Rodney Sauer's score for TRUE HEART SUSIE. It's well performed but is just a little too quaint and old-fashioned in some scenes which undercuts some of the story. The score for HOODOO ANN enhances the film quite nicely. So let this DVD be your introduction to the wonderfully gifted but tragically short-lived actor Bobby Harron. Once you've seen him here it'll make you hungry for more. Aside from INTOLERANCE check out the Griffith BIOGRAPH SHORTS and HEARTS OF THE WORLD for an opportunity to see what he could do. Thanks to David Shepard and Film Preservation Associates for making this available.
This DVD is a special treat for silent film enthusiasts and anyone who longs for some good old-fashioned, sentimental and charming love stories of days gone by. Both "True Heart Susie" and the second film on this disc, "Hoodoo Ann" were written and produced by `the father of film' D.W. Griffith who is generally remembered today as the director of landmark epics such as "Intolerance" and "Birth of a Nation", so it might come as a pleasant surprise to some to see this other side of Griffith's work. "True Heart Susie", which Griffith also directed, is completely different from his historic epics of only a few years earlier, showing that he also had depth, sensitivity and compassion in filming this story of a simple country girl's unwavering love for her childhood sweetheart. The simple essence of the story is about true love, and that the girls who use "paint and powder" are only temporary flirtations or mistakes men make, but true hearts like Susie's remain faithful and wait for their one and only true love. Along with superb acting by screen legend Lillian Gish whose face and demeanour suit innocent girl roles so well, Griffith brings out many delicate details and touching moments in the film, making it one of his best ever films next to another 1919 production also starring Lillian Gish, namely "Broken Blossoms". It is fitting, therefore, that this DVD presents a beautiful, near-perfect remastered print of "True Heart Susie" along with a wonderful orchestral musical score by the highly-acclaimed Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, which greatly adds to the overall charm and tender mood of the story.
The second film, "Hoodoo Ann" also features experienced actors regularly used by Griffith in many earlier films, namely Mae Marsh and Robert Harron, who both starred in "Intolerance" in the same year, 1916. In this light-hearted story of another sweet and innocent country girl, Mae Marsh is just as convincing as Lillian Gish with her girly manner, and Robert Harron is dependable and reliable as usual, playing Hoodoo Ann's suitor who is puzzled when Ann says she can't marry him. But her reasons are all an amusing set of circumstances and misunderstandings, which make "Hoodoo Ann" simply a joy to watch. Once again, attention to detail is important in this clever, light comedy romance, and everything fits together smoothly along with Mae Marsh's fine performance making Hoodoo Ann a believable character. Picture quality is again extremely good, and it has a standard but very good piano accompaniment. For anyone who'd like to escape to a simpler, idyllic past without heavy drama, these two easy-to-watch early silent films won't disappoint, and in fact, might increase appreciation for both D W Griffith's varied works and silent films generally.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Finally Professionally Restored!30 Aug. 2007
Claudio D. Duckardt
- Published on Amazon.com
I won't go into the plot of this movie, but is should suffice for me to say that this has to be one of the top, if not THE top Griffith film. Griffith was famous for his epics. Often, these were racist and very melodramic movies. There is none of that in this little gem of the silent era. Every thing in the story is simple and it flows along like a smooth, country stream. Nothing controversial here, and we are treated to a story of young love set in an America that has all but disappeared. The country setting, the daily activities of old time folk, all of this makes this movie a piece of old time Americana that silent film lovers cannot miss. Who hasn't been in love and been hurt? Ah, this film tugs at the heart strings!
I first discovered this wonderful gem twenty years ago when I bought a vhs copy from VideoYesteryear. The print used was bad...dark, blurry. I couldn't understand why none of the major video companies had not realeased a restored edition. I used to hound KINO and MILESTONE Films about working on this movie. Hats off to Image. The print quality is excellent. The music is good and goes well with the film, but I have to admit that I enjoyed the Rosa Rio score from my old YesterYear vhs copy. If you love the silent era as much as I do, please treat yourself to what will become one of your favorite films.
This is a movie consistent with the old morals and ethics of that early time frame. It is a morality play teaching about looking for character in a spouse, and the results of not choosing character over looks. I liked Lillian Gish as an actress much better than Mary Pickford, in that she was more subtle in her expression and acting and consequently more realistic.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
True Heart Susie27 April 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
True Heart Susie is a great film. The subtleties of camera angles, camera movement, foreshadowing, and lighting make this film. This film is the hallmark for the beginning of subtle acting--no more is there need for over exaggerated expressions like that that of German Expressionist films. The film does well to incorporate enter-titles that allow for more thought and interpretation. This film is rather different for D. W. Griffith, but it is good. I highly recommend this film. This film is exciting to watch and plays with societal norms and constraints. Susie has loved her neighbor for all her life but is cast aside when a new woman comes into town. It's interesting to notice the way in which the camera focuses on Susie's face and the little idiosyncrasies that she expresses. The relationship between Susie and Bettina is also quite noticeable in that Susie doesn't show anger or frustration towards her. She warmly helps her escape trouble; Susie knows that if Bettina were to be exposed, her love, William would be free to marry her, but oddly, Susie does not let Bettina face the trouble. This is an amazingly well done film that is far ahead of its time. Lillian Gish pioneered the subtle acting and was revolutionary for her time. Audiences love her face/acting to this day. The audience can really relate to Susie. Even though this film is a silent film, it is surprising how well it is received today. The acting and story line are so unique, that many and all can enjoy the film. I would definitely recommend this film if one is looking for an entertaining short film. This is a good intro into the films of D. W. Griffith.