Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, February 4, 2020


Directed by D. W. Griffith, with inventive camera work by G. W. Bitzer and written by Griffith and Anita Loos, this sixteen-minute silent short is considered to be the first American gangster film was entered into the Library of Congress National Film Library more than a century after its release.

In a run-down tenement on New York's "Other Side." The Musician (Walter Miller) and The Little Lady (Lillian Gish) live in poverty with The Little Woman's Mother (Clara T. Bracy).  The Musician leaves (either for far away work or to sell his instrument -- it doesn't really matter) while The Little Lady earns some meager money by sewing (or taking in wash -- again, it doesn't really matter).  While The Musician is away, The Little Lady's Mother passes away.  The cheer up The Little Lady, a girl friend takes her to the Gangster's Ball, where one neer-do-well offers her a drugged drink (soft drink, I believe , but it doesn't really matter).  What matters is that he is interrupted, and the Little Lady is saved, by The Snapper Kid, the leader of The Musketeers, a rival gang (Elmer Booth).  Finally, the Musician comes home, but is attacked and robbed by The Snapper Kid.  Vowing to regain his stolen money, The Musician heads off.  Later The Musician happens upon a shoot-out between the rival gangs.  Can he get his money?  The police chase The Snapper Kid back to The Little Lady's building.  Will she in gratitude for saving her protect him?

Filmed in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and reportedly using real gang members for some of the extras, this film is also noted for the first use of follow-focus in ilm and for the use of some documentary techniques in a fictional story.

Some pretty interesting folks appeared in The Musketeers of Pig Alley.  Elmer Booth, a talented and photogenic actor, was denied greater film fame when in 1915 when a car driven by Tod Browning crashed into a train.  Booth, a passenger in the car was killed.  He was only 32.  Lillian Gish was about 18 when this movie was made, but her younger sister Dorothy (then 14) was sometimes credited for the role.  Dorothy did appear in the  film, though, in an uncredited role.  Look closely and you might find well-known actors Lionel Barrymore and Donald Crisp in uncredited roles.  Mary Pickford's younger brother Jack is also there.  D. W. Griffith may have been an extra (unconfirmed but it sure looks like him.  And Harry Carey is featured as The Snapper Kid's Lieutenant.

Enjoy this little piece of film history.

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