Life and Lillian Gish (1932)

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"La Boheme" 213 King Vidor, in a recent letter to the author, tells of Lillian's familiarity with this method: One of the things that comes to my mind is the amazing ability she possessed of rehearsing a picture through without having any of the sets, properties, and sometimes actors, before her. The first time we tried this method of rehearsal, which was at her suggestion, we chose a secluded spot on a patch of bare lawn in the studio grounds. I asked Miss Gish to go ahead with the rehearsal and, to my amazement, she started through doors that did not exist, closing them behind her, picking up articles and using them, opening drawers, taking out things and putting others away, playing scenes with other members of the cast who were not there at the time, walking up and down stairways that did not exist, and even going out into the street and riding away in a bus, and playing scenes with people in carriages as they moved along. This showed a power of imagination that was almost mystifying. It reminded me of times when I had seen little girls playing at housekeeping, only in this case it was entirely useful and helpful in the making of the picture. The story of "La Boheme" is almost universally known — the play and the opera have taken care of that. Lillian and Madame de Gresac stuck rather closely to the latter. Little Mimi, pauvre brodeuse, living alone in a cold, miserable place against the roof, meets and loves, and is beloved by, one of the bohemians, a writer, of the adjoining attic. To advance his fortunes, she gives her strength, her life, for him, wins success for him, is cast off because he believes her unfaithful, then at the end, when she knows that her death is near, drags herself back to him, to die. There is no more heartbreaking story, and no story better suited to Lillian's gifts. The scenic designers had made small pasteboard sets, miniatures, to give the directors, electricians, camera-men,