Burglar’s Dilemma (1912)
DW Griffith directed this short crime-melodrama that, typically, has a hint of social message to it. In this case, a young man (Robert Harron, who we’ve seen in “The Musketeers of Pig Alley” and “Enoch Arden”) is nearly framed for a murder he didn’t commit when he conveniently breaks into the owner’s house to steal, at the behest of an older criminal (Harry Carey, Sr., also in “The Musketeers of Pig Alley” and “An Unseen Enemy”). The younger brother (Henry B. Walthall, later known for “The Birth of a Nation” and also in “The Avenging Conscience”), who is really guilty, turns him over to the police, who grill him mercilessly. The victim, the older brother (Lionel Barrymore, also in “The New York Hat” and later known for his series of “Dr. Kildare” movies), eventually revives and sets things straight, even getting his kid brother off the hook for good measure. The Gish sisters show up briefly before the heist goes down, but are barely in the movie. This seems like one of Griffith’s less innovative pieces, being constructed in a fairly linear fashion with minimal cross-cutting, and nearly all on square internal sets (often with the prominent “AB” for American Biograph visible on a wall!). No doubt audiences went more to see the now-familiar cast and simple morality play than for great originality.
Director: D.W. Griffith
Camera: Billy Bitzer
Starring: Lionel Barrymore, Henry B. Walthall, Harry Carey, Dorothy Gish, Lillian Gish, Robert Harron, Charles West.
Run Time: 15 Min, 22 seconds
You can watch it for free: here.