15 September 2018 | boblipton
How Do We Make a Movie?
D.W. Giffith's last picture for Biograph, BRUTE FORCE, was released in April of 1914. Sixteen months later they released this half-hour version of the melodramatic potboiler, and goodness, how the mighty have fallen! The camerawork is still good, but the cinematic technique is back in the bad old "Illustrated Text" days, which was the first thing that Griffith had gotten rid of. Because the story is a fallen souflee of people doing stupid and bad things and suffering, it soon grew wearisome to me.
Illustrated Text could work back then, but it required the audience to already know the story in its entirety. Otherwise it substituted the very uncinematic telling of a story for showing it.... and if you are content to be told a story, why are you looking at the movie instead of reading the Cliff Notes?
As it exists, this version shows a few competent actors -- Alan Hale, Madge Kirby, Kate Bruce -- strolling and holding unrecorded conversations with each other, while old men die with the unpaid mortgage in their hand, women abandon their husbands for no clear reason, only to return years later, fully disguised by wearing dark glasses, and similar miserable events. I suppose the geniuses at Biograph who thought they could let Griffith get away, thought this story was familiar enough that they didn't have to worry. They closed down production the following year. As for me, I have no further interest in this piece of trash.