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Sally of the Sawdust back to product details

Carol Dempster should have been a comedienne
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written by highgrove April 2, 2006 - 1:46 PM PDT
While admittedly I am being presumptious in judging Dempster on the basis of two films--America and Sally of the Sawdust--these are the only two that are available on DVD! Most film series devoted to Griffin show only his earlier pictures with the brilliant Lillian Gish, and in comparing Miss Dempster's wooden performance in the boring, overlong America to Miss Gish's radiant, mesmerizing performances in Broken Blossoms, Way Down East, and Orphans of the Storm, you can't help but think all the film critics who dismiss Griffith's later career and the demerits of Carol Dempster weren't right--until you see Sally of the Sawdust. She showed excellent comic timing, danced with grace and elegance, and played with W.C Fields, one of the best comics in the business, as a real team in this picture of a pair of circus performers who, unbeknowst to the girl, are trying to introduce her to her real grandparents. The film is very funny and holds your attention quite well as a result of the interplay between Fields and Dempster. While I would have to see more of her films to get a better idea of her talent--and it's a shame that more of Griffith's post-Gish oeuvre hasn't been released on DVD--I think Griffith made his biggest mistake in trying to remake her in the Mae Marsh/Lillian Gish fragile, imperiled epic heroine mold--he would have been better off casting her in the spunky, comic Dorothy Gish/Mary Pickford/Mabel Normand comedienne type. Chances are his career would have fared much better in the twenties if he had.

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(Average 6.57)
7 Votes
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