7.8/10
4,668
49 user 26 critic

Way Down East (1920)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 3 September 1920 (USA)
A naive country girl is tricked into a sham marriage by a wealthy womanizer, then must rebuild her life despite the taint of having borne a child out of wedlock.

Director:

D.W. Griffith

Writers:

Lottie Blair Parker (from the play by), William A. Brady (play) (as Wm. A. Brady) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lillian Gish ... Anna Moore
Richard Barthelmess ... David Bartlett
Mrs. David Landau Mrs. David Landau ... Anna Moore's Mother
Lowell Sherman ... Lennox Sanderson
Burr McIntosh ... Squire Bartlett
Josephine Bernard Josephine Bernard ... Mrs. Emma Tremont
Mrs. Morgan Belmont Mrs. Morgan Belmont ... Diana Tremont
Patricia Fruen Patricia Fruen ... Diana's Sister
Florence Short Florence Short ... The Eccentric Aunt
Kate Bruce ... Mrs. Bartlett
Vivia Ogden Vivia Ogden ... Martha Perkins
Porter Strong Porter Strong ... Seth Holcomb
George Neville George Neville ... Constable Rube Whipple
Edgar Nelson ... Hi Holler
Mary Hay Mary Hay ... Kate Brewster - the Squire's Niece
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Storyline

The callous rich, portrayed by Lennox, think only of their own pleasure. Anna is but a poor country girl whom Lennox tricks into a fake wedding. She believes that it is true, but secret, while he has his way with her. When she is pregnant, he leaves her and she must have the baby, named Trust Lennox, on her own. When the baby dies she wanders until she gets a job with Squire Bartlett. David falls for her, but she rejects him due to her past and then Lennox shows up lusting for Kate. Seeing Anna, he tries to get her to leave, but she doesn't, and she tells no one about his past. When Squire Bartlett learns of her past from Martha, the town gossip, he tosses Anna out in a snow storm. But before she goes, she fingers the respected Lennox, as the father of her dead baby and the spoiler of herself. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Biggest Sensation in the World's History of Motion Pictures See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

3 September 1920 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mädchenlos See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$700,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$4,500,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1931 re-release) | (Alpha Video)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

No cast credits are on the print. Filmgoers were provided with a printed program in which all the key players were identified, in the order of their importance to the story, and this is the order in which they appear here. See more »

Goofs

Around the 1 hr and 38 minute mark, Martha visits the Squire and encounters Anna at the door. She enters the room and gives Anna a disapproving look. Behind Anna is the door. When the view changes to a long shot of the room, Martha is still engaging with Anna, but now both are to the left of the door instead of standing in front of it. See more »

Quotes

Anna Moore's Mother: Tell Cousin Emma I made this hug-me-tight with my own hands.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Widow from Chicago (1930) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"And then the storm."
24 July 2017 | by utgard14See all my reviews

D.W. Griffith's lengthy silent melodrama about a naive young woman from the country who is taken advantage of by a cad. Later she finds love with a nice, sweet boy but her past comes back to haunt her. Never one to shy away from expressing his personal beliefs in his films, Griffith uses this simple story to sermonize about the moral character of men (basically they're all either doe-eyed innocents or total bastards) while also finding time to criticize the idle rich and prop up women as madonna figures. The opening title cards inform us men were never meant to be monogamous but we should try to be because Jesus said so...or something like that. Show that to your grandma's church group.

Star Lillian Gish is terrific at expressing emotions with her face and body. Few actresses, silent era or since, have been able to convey so much without words. Then we have her performance in the climax. Watching Gish fling herself about in the ice and snow, knowing it caused permanent physical damage to her hand...well it's a disturbingly impressive dedication to one's craft. She really is one of the all-time greats. Babyfaced Richard Barthelmess and the rest of the cast are also good.

On the negative side it is slow-going, particularly in the first half, with a lot of drawing room stuff and side visits through the local corn. As the film goes along, it becomes darker and more interesting, culminating in the justifiably famous snow storm finale with special effects provided by Mother Nature. Definitely worth a look for anyone who wants to see the best of the silent era, but I would advise against starting here. This is the type of film you need to be used to the silent movie pros & cons before attempting to watch it. That first hour or so is likely to drive away impatient viewers.


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