5 November 2018 | boblipton
Who Did What?
I've just taken a look at this movie, recorded off of TCM. It was preceded by a group of distinguished woman who referred to Producer/Screenwriter Julia Crawford Ivers as the director.... presumably with credited director Frank Lloyd deployed as a beard.
Regardless of who did what, let us consider the movie on its own terms.
Dustin Farnum lives in feud country, and he's been marked as the next leader of his clan. However, when painter Michael Hallyard boards with his family while he works on scenery, Farnum is fascinated. Given an opportunity to try his hand, he impresses the artist, who urges him to come study with him in New York. Eventually, he goes, leaving behind Winifred Kingston. Farnum encounters hostility among the upper-crust crowd, but perseveres; yet when news comes of a crisis back home, he heads back for a showdown.
It's a well-told story, and the camerawork by Dal Clawson is first-rate. The print had its flaws, but the first and fourth reel are pristine, and show magnificent scenery and composition.
The period from 1912 through about 1920 seems to have been a golden age for women in Hollywood, with writers, producers and directors, as well as starring in front of the camera. Many of the details have been lost, because of the fluid relationships and the confusion raised by later auteurist theories of film-making. Modern vagueness about what a producer does, and the concept of the director as a sort of battlefield general responsible for everything about a movie may or may not apply to any movie today, nor did it a century ago. Whatever Julia Crawford did on this movie back then is obscured, but as one of the writers and the producer, her participation was undoubtedly key.... as was the participation of the cameraman and the actors. In the end, I believe a movie cannot be an "auteurist" artifact, given the large number of artists cooperating in its production.