Modern opinion ranks D. W. Griffith's ORPHANS OF THE STORM well below his INTOLERANCE and THE BIRTH OF A NATION, even though this film was widely considered Griffith's --best-- work at the time of its release. That initial assessment is quite justified: Griffith's multi-layered melodrama of two sisters that plays out against the chaos of the French Revolution is masterfully realized.
"Orphans" had effects that reached far beyond the emotions of moviegoers in 1921. This film was one that inspired Serge Eisenstein's experiments in rapid editing. By comparison though, Serge's eventual style seems mechanical and a weak imitation of Griffith's brilliantly instinctive use of the fast cut. Also, the later sound-era version of [[ASIN:B000GRUQL0 A TALE OF TWO CITIES]] (with Ronald Colman) practically steals entire sequences from this older work.
ORPHANS OF THE STORM is clearly the culmination of over two decades of focused directing experience, and it's equal to or better than any single David Wark Griffith movie. Highest recommendation!
To see this director develop his talents, check out KINO'S [[ASIN:B00007CVS9 BIOGRAPH SHORTS: GRIFFITH MASTERWORKS]].
Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 IMDb viewer poll rating.
(7.9) Orphans of the Storm (silent-1921) - Lillian Gish/Dorothy Gish/Joseph Schildkraut/Frank Losee (minor roles: Monte Blue/Kenny Delmar)
This was Lillian Gish's last appearance in a Griffith film.
The Gish sisters were directly related to Pres. Zachary Taylor.
Joseph Schildkraut (the Chevalier) was the first non-American to win an Oscar: Best Supporting Actor - [[ASIN:B0006HBV3W THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA]] (1937).
Kenny Delmar, who plays the Chevalier as a boy, was the voice of Senator Claghorn on the "Allen's Alley" segment of Fred Allen's radio show.
Despite D. W.'s denials, a strong hatred of Bolshevism partly influenced his depiction here of the French Revolution.
In all his shorts, features and epic masterpieces, Griiffith NEVER used a script! Each day, he'd decide what to shoot and explained scenes and action to actors as they went along.