Life and Lillian Gish (1932)

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:tLa Boheme" 217 When Miss Gish stepped out of her car and began to work, it was like the arrival of a limpid, fragrant wood elf, so exquisite was her costume and so beautiful was she herself. . . . When I start to write of Mimi as I last saw her, I am reminded of the sensations I had as a child, when Mother used to tell me in vain that whatever I was reading was only a play or a story. . . . Thus I keep assuring myself that Miss Gish is a young lady who makes enough money to live on very comfortably, and that she has beauty, fame and adoring friends. Yet there keeps recurring the picture of our last work in "La Boheme," of the dying Mimi, struggling across Paris to Rodolphe. Her miserable clothes are in rags, and illness has carved deep hollows in her face. Clinging to the steps of a bus, fighting weakly through crowds, falling into the gutter and crawling on upon hands and knees, dragged holding to a chain behind a cart, slowly making her way, her long, pale-gold hair falling down over her shoulders and back. Between shots you might have thought her still playing a bit in the picture, so unpretentious was her manner. If her skirt had to be dirty for a close shot, she did not hail a prop boy, but knelt on the cobblestones and made it grimy herself. . . . Toward the end of the sequence — scratched and bruised from her numerous falls and tumbles, her clothes ragged and mudstained, her beautiful hair tangled and dusty, she waited so patiently for the lights to be arranged for each shot, now standing on the rough, sharp cobbles, now collapsed on the step. Sitting in the gutter, waiting for Mr. Vidor's signal, she smoothed her apron — a tattered piece of black cotton — with a delicate gesture. The preservation of an illusion through reality is always a feat, an illusion being of such a fragile, rarefied substance. Usually we learn to be satisfied with treasured remnants. Thus, it is with pride in my good fortune, and with gratitude to Lillian for being what she is, that I present to you an illusion, not only intact but even increased in value — Miss Gish!