Gretchen the Greenhorn, 1916like
Presented at the 1996 SF Silent Film Festival
Cast Dorothy Gish (Gretchen), Ralph Lewis (Jan Van Houck), Eugene Pallette (Rogers), Frank Bennett (Pietro), Kate Bruce (Widow Garrity), George Stone, Violet Radcliffe, Carmen De Rue, Beulah Burns, Francis Carpenter, and Tom Spencer (The Garrity Kids) Production Fine Arts Film Company 1916, released by the Triangle Film Corporation
Print Source UCLA Film and Television Archive
Also presented in this program: Original coming attraction trailers from the lost films The Patriot (1928), directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring Emil Jannings, which won the 1929 Academy Award for Best Screenplay; Beau Sabreur (1928), which starred Gary Cooper, a sequel to the 1927 version of Beau Geste; Just Another Blonde (1926), a Louise Brooks film; the recently discovered last reel of The Village Blacksmith (1922), an early feature directed by John Ford; and a Pathé Frères short from 1904, The Wrong Door, directed by Ferdinand Zecca.
Musical Accompaniment Michael Mortilla
Program Note by Melissa Chittick and Stephen Salmons
A beautifully photographed melodrama from 1916, Gretchen the Greenhorn is the charming story of Gretchen, a Dutch girl as “fresh as the tulips of her native fields,” who immigrates to America to live with her father. The film chronicles their struggles with poverty in the overpopulated tenements of New York and their exciting adventures with a gang of ruthless counterfeiters. “Magnificently depicted from all picture standpoints,” Gretchen the Greenhorn is “a corking popular priced feature.” (Variety, August 15, 1916)
Gretchen is played by Dorothy Gish, whose career has often been overshadowed by that of her more famous sister Lillian. A talented actress in her own right, Dorothy’s popularity was so great that in 1918 Paramount offered her an exclusive million dollar contract. Remarking “a million dollars — at my age, why, it would have ruined me,” she rejected the offer and went on to appear in a number of highly successful light comedies known as the Dorothy Gish Artcraft Series. Today, Dorothy is best remembered for her work in the classic D.W. Griffith films Hearts of the World (1918) and Orphans of the Storm (1922).
Melissa Chittick and Stephen Salmons are the founders of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.