D.W. Griffith - Rotten Tomatoes

D.W. Griffith

Highest Rated:   100% San Francisco (1936)
Lowest Rated:   29% The Struggle (1931)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   Not Available
One of the pioneers of contemporary filmmaking (and often cited as the single most important figure in the history of American cinema), D.W. Griffith was also one of the most controversial figures in the history of Hollywood. The son of a physician and Confederate hero during the Civil War, Griffith grew up in poverty in Louisville, KY, and gravitated to acting at an early age. At the turn-of-the-century, he worked as a performer in various touring companies with mixed success and in virtual poverty. After years of frustration on the stage, he turned to movies, and became an actor and writer, establishing himself at New York's Biograph Studio. He eventually became a producer and, in 1908, a director. He directed every Biograph release through the end of 1909, and, later as chief of production, supervised the making of every film released by the company for the next three years, personally directing all of the major productions. Most of these 450 films were comedies, although a significant minority were dramas. But it was in 1913 that Griffith's ambitions became clear with Judith of Bethulia; violating the restrictions of the studio heads, Griffith made the Old Testament drama into a four-reel film, almost double the length that had been approved, and an epic by the of the film standards of the day.After leaving Biograph, Griffith embarked on an ambitious production based upon Thomas Dixon's novel The Clansman, which ultimately became known as Birth of a Nation (1915). The first great epic film of American cinema, this movie, more than any other, defined what the medium could do. Assisted by his cameraman Billy Bitzer, Griffith had already utilized such techniques of film construction and design as the close-up, rhythmic editing, parallel action, and dramatic lighting; these had been used before -- but not with Griffith's coherence or purpose. Birth of a Nation was the culmination of his efforts, drawing these techniques together in an epic-length story that carried viewers through the Civil War and into Reconstruction, with in-depth, detailed drama involving dozens of characters. Griffith single-handedly elevated American film -- which had previously stood in the shadow of its European cousins (Italian filmmakers, in particular, had been more ambitious much earlier) to world-class stature, and forced Americans who had thought of movies as light entertainment to perceive them as serious creations, worthy of respect equal to the greatest stage dramas and capable of creating theatrics that the a live performance couldn't hope to match. The movie's Civil War setting, however, was to prove a blemish on Griffith's reputation -- a Southerner by birth and family history with a deep resentment of the toll that Reconstruction played on his homeland, Griffith was outspoken on his views regarding the races, and black audience members all over the country rose up in protest against the depiction of slaves and ex-slaves in the movie. Demonstrations began almost from the instant the film was released, and Griffith -- despite including a plea for reconciliation of all of mankind's differences in his subsequent film Intolerance (1916) -- never fully recovered from the controversy. (A film answering Birth of a Nation was produced in 1919; entitled Birth of a Race, it presented a completely different view of black Americans and their ancestors.) The ripple effect of Birth also moved in other directions: The news that Griffith was doing an eight-reel drama also led his former mentor, Mack Sennett, to make the hour-long Tillie's Punctured Romance, the first comedy to run longer than two reels.Griffith never had another success as great as Birth of a Nation, and, indeed, faced ongoing financial problems for much of the rest of his career. In addition, while his filmmaking technique was beyond reproach, his dramatic sensibilities were rooted in the touring theater of the 20th century's first decade. While he expanded the structural boundaries and st

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
No Score Yet Those Awful Hats
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
2011
No Score Yet An Unseen Enemy
  • Director
2010
No Score Yet The Lady And The Mouse
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
2010
No Score Yet Hollywood Mavericks
  • Actor
1990
No Score Yet One Million B.C.
  • Director
1940
100% San Francisco
  • Director
1936
29% The Struggle
  • Screenwriter
1931
100% Abraham Lincoln
  • Producer
  • Director
1930
No Score Yet The Battle of the Sexes
  • Producer
  • Director
1928
No Score Yet The Sorrows of Satan
  • Director
1926
80% Sally of the Sawdust
  • Producer
  • Director
1925
No Score Yet Isn't Life Wonderful
  • Screenwriter
  • Producer
  • Director
1924
57% America
  • Director
  • Producer
1924
91% Orphans of the Storm
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1921
No Score Yet Dream Street
  • Producer
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
1921
94% Way Down East
  • Director
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
1920
No Score Yet The Idol Dancer
  • Director
1920
80% True Heart Susie
  • Director
  • Producer
1919
95% Broken Blossoms
  • Producer
  • Director
1919
No Score Yet The Greatest Question
  • Director
  • Producer
1919
No Score Yet A Romance of Happy Valley
  • Producer
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
1919
No Score Yet Hearts of the World
  • Producer
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
1918
97% Intolerance
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1916
No Score Yet Hoodoo Ann
  • Screenwriter
  • Producer
1916
No Score Yet An American Aristocracy
  • Producer
1916
No Score Yet Manhattan Madness
  • Producer
1916
No Score Yet The Martyrs of the Alamo
  • Producer
  • Screenwriter
1915
100% The Birth of a Nation
  • Director
1915
No Score Yet Old Heidelberg
  • Producer
1915
No Score Yet The Lamb
  • Director
1915
No Score Yet The Avenging Conscience: or 'Thou Shalt Not Kill'
  • Screenwriter
  • Producer
  • Director
1914
No Score Yet Judith of Bethulia
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1914
No Score Yet The Battle At Elderbush Gulch
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1914
No Score Yet Home Sweet Home
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
1914
No Score Yet The Musketeers of Pig Alley
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
1912
No Score Yet A Sister's Love
  • Director
1912
No Score Yet The Lonedale Operator
  • Director
1911
No Score Yet What the Daisy Said
  • Director
1910
No Score Yet A Corner in Wheat
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1909
No Score Yet The Renunciation
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
1909
No Score Yet Edgar Allan Poe
  • Director
1909
No Score Yet Where the Breakers Roar
  • Screenwriter
  • Director
1908

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