A Drunkard's Reformation

A Drunkard's Reformation is a 1909 American drama film directed by D. W. Griffith. Prints of the film survive in the film archive of the Library of Congress.[1] Biograph advertised the feature as "The most powerful temperance lecture ever depicted".[2]

A Drunkard's Reformation
Opening credits from film
Directed byD. W. Griffith
Written byD. W. Griffith
StarringArthur V. Johnson
CinematographyG. W. Bitzer
Distributed byBiograph Company
Release date
  • April 1, 1909 (1909-04-01)
Running time
13 minutes
CountryUnited States


John Wharton, the husband of a true and trusting wife and father of an eight-year-old girl, through the association of rakish companions becomes addicted to the drink habit, and while the demon rum has not fastened its tentacles firmly, there is no question that given free rein the inevitable would culminate in time. Arriving home one afternoon in a wine besotted condition, he is indeed a terrifying spectacle to his little family. Later, after he has slept off the effects to some extent, while at supper, the little girl shows him two tickets for the theater, begging him to take her. After some persuasion he consents to go. The play is a dramatization of Émile Zola's L'Assommoir, which shows how short a journey it is from peace and happiness to woe and despair by the road of rum. At the final curtain of the play, he is a changed man, going homeward with a firm determination that he will drink no more, which he promises his wife upon his return. Two years later we find the little family seated, happy and peaceful, at the fireside and we know that the promise has been kept.

Moving Picture World (1909)



A moving picture house manager in Moline, Illinois, George Dehl, promised to donate $500 to a local hospital if he could not produce films that have the best sermons beat. Dehl proposed "that they bring the Reverend Billy Sunday to Moline and have him preach the best sermon in the list, and they bring a great temperance lecturer here and instruct him to make his best effort". Dehl said once they had left, he would put on two reels of film at his theater, and if the public does not vote one of them a greater temperance sermon than what the speaker had delivered, and the other a greater religious appeal than the sermon by Sunday, he would donate the money to a local hospital. The films he had referred for showing were The Drunkard's Reformation and The Resurrection.[3]

Variety reported that Biograph had received a letter from an exhibitor in an Iowa town, stating that when the film was shown there, it had caused the town to "go dry" at the election which occurred the week after it had been featured. The letter went on to say that the exhibitor had been visited by a delegation of "The Wets", asking for the picture not to be shown. The man refused and the town "went prohibition by a big majority".[4]

See also


  1. "Progressive Silent Film List: A Drunkard's Reformation". Silent Era. Retrieved October 6, 2008.
  2. Biograph Films (1909). "Biograph Films". The Moving Picture World. p. 357.
  3. "Pittsburg". Moving Picture World. 1909. p. 406.
  4. "The Value of Quality". Variety. June 1909. p. 13.
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