<i>The Cheat.</i> 1915. USA. Directed by Cecil B. DeMille

D. W. Griffith’s Competitors: Ince and DeMille

With musical accompaniment by Ben Model

Thursday, December 3, 2009, 1:30 p.m.

Theater 3 (The Celeste Bartos Theater), mezzanine, The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building

Includes the following films:

  • The Cheat

    1915. USA. Directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Photographed by Alvin Wyckoff. With Sessue Hayakawa, Fannie Ward. This steamy drama, which hinted at the hot topic of miscegenation, helped Japanese immigrant and Ince discovery Hayakawa become a matinee idol who soon had his own studio. Silent. Approx. 50 min.

  • Custer’s Last Fight

    1912. USA. Directed by Thomas Ince. With Francis Ford, J. Barney Sherry, Lillian Christy. This portrayal of the massacre at Little Big Horn shows a sense of filmic space often lacking in Griffith’s Westerns. Silent. Approx. 50 min.

Although D. W. Griffith dominated the second decade of the twentieth century, he was not without rivals and claimants to his throne. Thomas H. Ince (1882–1924) remains a shadowy figure in film history, both because he frequently ignored the line between production and direction and because of his untimely and mysterious death. Many of the films he produced beginning in 1910 had a distinctively Ince-like look to them, even though they were signed by other directors. His association with William S. Hart helped Ince to play a major role in the development of that most uniquely American of genres, the Western. Cecil B. DeMille (1881–1959) also started with Westerns, but he soon discovered the audience appeal of another commodity: sex. He would go on to a forty-year career as one of the most famous and commercially successful, if not venerated, Hollywood directors.

In the Film exhibition An Auteurist History of Film

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