Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lillian Gish And The Wind Machine

Found this on Chained and Perfumed, Charlie Parker's featured blog of the month. That's Lillian Gish on the set of The Wind. To create the endless sandstorms that are central to the plot, Gish and director Victor Sjöström flew eight airplanes to the middle of the Mojave Desert and cranked their propellers up on high. Coupled with 120ºF temperatures that cooked metal surfaces and warped film stock, it was a pretty miserable experience.

Great movie though.

I've written about Lillian Gish before and I won't reiterate it all here except to say that she was the best actress of the Silent Era and though she most often played shy, virginal victims, she was actually one tough cookie who took complete control of her career in the early '20s and crafted some of the best movies of the age. As screenwriter Frances Marion put it, "She might look fragile, but physically and spiritually she was as fragile as a steel rod. Nobody could sway her from her self-appointed course. With a Botticelli face, she had the mind of a good Queen Bess, dictating her carefully thought-out policies and ruling justly, if firmly."

Hmm, now that I think about, Lillian Gish sounds a lot like Katie-Bar-The-Door. And you wonder why I like her so much ...

5 comments:

KC said...

Have you read her autobiography? You get plenty of examples of how tough she was. I mean, this woman was doing theater in London during the Blitz!

Mythical Monkey said...

I admit I haven't read her autobiography -- sounds like a trip to the library is order for me. Actually, it looks like she wrote three books: The Movies, Mr. Griffith, and Me, Dorothy and Lillian Gish and An Actor's Life For Me. The one about Dorothy is going for $180 on amazon.com, but the others look easily obtainable. Do you recommend one over the other?

thingy said...

What!? You can't swim?
One of the joys of life, and it could save one.
Never too late.

Mythical Monkey said...

What can I tell you? Faced with the option to sink or swim, I sink every time!

KC said...

I read The Movies, Mr. Griffith and Me. It's one of my favorite actor autobiographies because she seems to be telling the truth (though I often enjoy a well-told lie). I keep forgetting she did the other two. I should check them out!