Life and Lillian Gish (1932)

Record Details:

Something wrong or inaccurate about this page? Let us Know!

Thanks for helping us continually improve the quality of the Lantern search engine for all of our users! We have millions of scanned pages, so user reports are incredibly helpful for us to identify places where we can improve and update the metadata.

Please describe the issue below, and click "Submit" to send your comments to our team! If you'd prefer, you can also send us an email to with your comments.

We use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) during our scanning and processing workflow to make the content of each page searchable. You can view the automatically generated text below as well as copy and paste individual pieces of text to quote in your own work.

Text recognition is never 100% accurate. Many parts of the scanned page may not be reflected in the OCR text output, including: images, page layout, certain fonts or handwriting.

208 Life and Lillian Gish clean-handed deeds. Yes, certainly it should be graved upon my tomb, 'Queen Helen ruled this earth while it stayed worthy.' But that was very long ago. "And so farewell to you, Queen Helen! Your beauty has been to me a robber that stripped my life of joy and sorrow, and I desire not ever to dream of your beauty any more." Cabell, builder of magic phrases! His words look like other words, but they assemble with a strange ardency, and they march to the pipes of Pan. I am taking Hergesheimer's word for it that it was Lillian who inspired Cabell's Helen, though I might have guessed that, anyway. And then it happened that George Jean Nathan, hardbitten dramatic critic, hater of movies, suddenly became Lillian-conscious and proceeded to do something about it — something rather special — in Vanity Fair. Wrote Nathan: That she is one of the few real actresses that the films have brought forth, either here or abroad, is pretty well agreed upon by the majority of critics. But it seems to me that, though the fact is taken for granted, the reasons for her eminence have in but small and misty part been set into print. . . . The girl is superior to her medium, pathetically so. . . . The particular genius of Lillian Gish lies in making the definite charmingly indefinite. Her technique consists in thinking out a characterization directly and concretely and then executing it in terms of semi-vague suggestion. . . . The smile of the Gish girl is a bit of happiness trembling on a bed of death; the tears of the Gish girl . . . are the tears that old Johann Strauss wrote into the rosemary of his waltzes. The whole secret of the young woman's remarkably effective acting rests, as I have observed, in her carefully devised and skilfully negotiated technique of playing always, as it were, behind a veil of silver chiffon. . . . She is always present, she always dominates the scene, yet one