Griffith Takes Up Talk with Abraham Lincoln (1930)
D.W. Griffith effort at talkie comeback has gotten
razz from critic/historians since time it was new, but rehab comes with Blu-Ray
access and wherewithal to see/hear the thing properly. It's a 96 minute stride
through key moments of a known-well life, vignettes done brief so as not to
dawdle over familiarground. This is vivid instance where quality makes all the
difference. I sat through UHF-PD squalor in the 70's when that was all you got
of Lincoln and assumed from there it was largely a dud --- well, what
wouldn't be, given that sort ofsquint down a coke
bottle? DWG compositions are the usual great and he moves his camera besides,
Abraham Lincoln even or well ahead of talkies done in that uncertain year. Abe
took $576K in domestic rentals against $720K spent on the negative (don't know
foreign, but it likely wasn't great for this Americana subject). Was 1930 patronage cool
to US history topics? The Big Trail came out a same year to similar fate. I
wonder if the Birth Of A Nationsound reissue (also '30) might actually have
done better. Walter Huston looks and walks the Lincoln part; we could speculate too on
what or how many details of his performance were shaped by Griffith. What a
difference it might have made had this been a hit. Would there have been a new
cycle of DWG epics? ... remakes of his silent classics, but now with talk?
Awkward scenes in Abraham Lincoln are outnumbered by many that play splendid.
I'm hopeful the pic will win new laurels now that HD has rode to Griffith's rescue.