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Orphans of the Storm

October 21, 2009

So, once upon a time there was this French melodrama called Les deux orphelines. It got made into movies a few times in the 1910s. Then, around 1920, D.W. Griffith was looking for a story to make into his next movie. He’d just had a big success with a beefed-up melodrama, Way Down East, so he decided to use Les deux orphelines and stick it in the middle of the French Revolution. He changed the name to Orphans of the Storm, got Lillian Gish to be in it, and filmed the whole thing in Westchester County. And it was awesome, in spite, or perhaps because, of the frequent references to Bolshevism in the intertitles.

I watched Orphans of the Storm last week on a college TV station, so when the movie ended there were a couple of guys talking about the movie, which is where I came up with the bit about Westchester. They seemed to be more interested in talking about how Griffith’s place in Mamaroneck was called Satan’s Toe than the movie itself. Anyway, this morning I checked Project Gutenberg’s New eBooks feed and found that they’d uploaded the novelization of the movie, also called Orphans of the Storm and full of pictures from the movie. I have not read it yet, and I’m not sure when I’ll get around to it, but I thought it was a very nifty thing and I wanted to share it.

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