Adventures of Dollie (1908)
This is the very first directorial effort of D.W. Griffith, who would go on to become one of the major pioneers of the Classical Silent Period. It is a short film about a father’s hunt for his kidnapped little daughter, and in that sense resembles “Rescued from an Eagle’s Nest,” which Griffith had starred earlier in under Edwin S. Porter while working for Edison Studios. After joining Biograph as an actor, he was requested to direct something and agreed, on condition that he could return to acting whenever he wished. Apparently he never did. The most thrilling sequence in the film is that in which Dollie is sealed in a barrel by her Gypsy captors, which then accidentally falls off the wagon into the river, and proceeds through rapids and over a falls, before being recovered by a wholesome Huck Finn lookalike and reunited with her family. I was surprised that the father was not given the chance to heroically rescue her, as in the Porter film, but this was a pretty good example of an early multi-scene film, using editing and creative camera angles to tell a story with no intertitles. The Gypsies are definitely stereotypes here, with no depth or dignity, which I suppose also pre-sages certain aspects of Griffith’s career, while Dollie’s family are as white as snow.
Director: D.W. Griffith
Camera: Billy Bitzer
Starring: Arthur V. Johnson, Gladys Egan
Run Time: 12 Min
You can watch it for free: here.