These notes accompany the screening of D. W. Griffith’s Competitors: Ince and DeMille on December 2, 3, and 4 in Theater 3.
By the early 1910s there was a general awareness among film people that D. W. Griffith had brought something new to the medium and broadened the playing field. Rather than be intimidated, many ambitious young men who aspired to be directors followed Griffith’s lead—but also set out on their own path toward success. Thomas Ince (1882–1924) was one of the least intimidated. He shared Griffith’s experience as a not-very-successful stage actor who accidentally stumbled into the medium from which he would make his fortune. Unlike Griffith, however, Ince was highly organized and had a strong business sense. Twice he constructed his own studio, and he gradually fudged the lines between directing and producing, although he seems to have been highly adept at both. The early French film critic Louis Delluc made the distinction succinctly: “Griffith is cinema’s first director. Ince is its first prophet.”