Scarlet Days

Scarlet Days is a 1919 American silent western film produced and directed by D. W. Griffith and released through Paramount/Artcraft Pictures, Artcraft being an affiliate of Paramount. Richard Barthelmess stars in a role for which Griffith had screentested Rudolph Valentino.[1][2] In today's time, this film is considered by many to be one of Griffith's worst films though it might have worked better as a short film.[3] This film was unlike others created by D.W. Griffith. According to an article written for the "Cincinnati Inquirer", written on the 16 of November 1919: "Unlike other recent Griffith production, Scarlet Days is a story of the old West, of the gold rush days of 49- Bret Harte transferred to the screen!"[4] The Western film genre was expanding at this time and Scarlet Days fits into this category. Western films were popular for this time.

Scarlet Days
Film poster
Directed byD. W. Griffith
Produced byD. W. Griffith
Written byStanner E. V. Taylor (original story, scenario)
StarringRichard Barthelmess
Clarine Seymour
CinematographyG. W. Bitzer
Edited byJames Smith
Distributed byParamount Pictures/Artcraft
Release date
  • November 30, 1919 (1919-11-30)
Running time
7 reels (6,916 feet)
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)

Considered a lost film, a print was found in the State Film Archives of the Soviet Union, which donated it to the Museum of Modern Art in 1969.[5] The film was screened to the public, for the first time since its rediscovery, on March 24th and 25th, 1969. Scarlet Days was shown alongside another missing film, A Romance of Happy Valley, at the Museum of Modern Art's auditorium with titles still printed in Russian. English titles were later created by the Department of Film at the Museum of Modern Art.[6]

Plot

As described in a film magazine,[7] Rosie Nell (Besserer), a woman of dance halls in early lawless California, is wrongly charged with the murder of one of her fellow entertainers. Because her daughter (Dempster), who knows nothing of her mother's station in life, is to return the next day from her school in the east, Rosie is granted three days of grace to be spent in company with her daughter at a nearby cabin. The three days pass happily, but King Bagley (Long), manager of the dance hall, has seen the daughter and determined to make her his own. The women barricade themselves in the cabin to resist capture and Alvarez (Barthelmess), a young outlaw with considerable local prestige, comes to their assistance. John Randolph (Graves), who also loves the young woman, joins the fight on their side, which ends with the timely arrival of the Sheriff (Fawcett). This results in a happy ending.

Cast

Release

Responses

Public response to this film was overwhelmingly positive during its release in November of 1919. Many news sources in 1919 published review articles complimenting and comparing Scarlet Days to other films created by D.W.Griffith. News outlets such as the "New-York Tribune", "San Francisco Chronicle", "Cincinnati Enquirer", and more were including reviews on Scarlet Days as well as announcing local showtimes for this film. A review article from the "Cincinnati Enquirer" stated that: "The latest D.W. Griffith production soon will be ready for local release. Griffith as usual has assembled a sparkling cast for his new picture."[8] Scarlet Days traveled across the country to show in various theaters after its release date on November 9, 1919. Prior to the actual showing, news articles would be released to inform readers of short plot summaries and events in the production.

On an opposing view written for "Variety" magazine wrote on Scarlet Days negatively, and claimed that: "Scarlet Days as a story was not worthy of Griffith's direction in picturization. It is entire too commonplace."[9] For current day moviegoers, this film is one of the least popular of D.W. Griffith's directed pictures. Scarlet Days was considered to be made too late in the era where Western films were becoming popular. Though some new sources gave positive feedback in response to the release of this film, opposing viewpoints claimed that: "Outside of [the lack of plot depth] there is nothing more to say except that it is a surprise that Griffith should at this late date take to filming rip-snorting Western mellers with a lot of harum-scarum rough stuff with gunplay."[10]

References

  1. "Progressive Silent Film List: Scarlet Days". silentera.com.
  2. The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1911-20 by The American Film Institute, c. 1988
  3. Simmon, Scott (July 31, 1993). The Films of D. W. Griffith. CUP Archive. p. 12. ISBN 9780521388207. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  4. "The Silent Drama". ProQuest 865910060. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. "Soviet Film Archives Provide Americana Two Missing Works of D.W. Griffith" (PDF). Museum of Modern Art. March 24, 1969. Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  6. "SOVIET FILM ARCHIVES PROVIDE AMERICANA TWO MISSING WORKS OF D.W. GRIFFITH" (PDF). The Museum of Modern Art.
  7. "Reviews: Scarlet Days". Exhibitors Herald. New York City: Exhibitors Herald Company. 9 (26): 71. December 20, 1919.
  8. "The Silent Drama". ProQuest 865910060. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. "Scarlet Days". ProQuest 1475613315. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. "Scarlet Days". ProQuest 1475613315. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
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