Broken Blossoms (1919)

Drama | 20 October 1919

Producer:

D. W. Griffith

Cinematographer:

G. W. Bitzer

Production Company:

D. W. Griffith
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HISTORY

The film's opening title card reads: " Broken Blossoms OR The Yellow Man and the Girl, " and its working title was The Chink and the Child . According to contemporary sources, the film originally was to be released as an Artcraft picture by Famous Players-Lasky Corp., but Griffith bought it back and had it distributed through United Artists.
       The film opened the D. W. Griffith Repertory Season at the George M. Cohan Theatre in New York on 13 May 1919 and also played in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco and possibly other cities before its national release on 20 Oct 1919. The New York presentation included a staged prologue entitled The Dance of Life and Death which was copyrighted by Griffith in 1919 and described as "a dance play in one act." In several scenes within the film, when "Lucy" (Lillian Gish) is told to smile by her abusive father, "Battling Burrows" (Donald Crisp), she uses two fingers to push her lips up to form a smile. This poignant gesture became associated with Gish throughout her life and remains one of the most recognizable images in film history.
       According to the 1921 MPSD , Wilbur Higby, an actor and director, worked on the film in some capacity. According to a modern source, one scene was shot by Karl Brown, special effects were by Hendrick Sartov, the film editor was James Smith and Moon Kwan was the technical ... More Less

The film's opening title card reads: " Broken Blossoms OR The Yellow Man and the Girl, " and its working title was The Chink and the Child . According to contemporary sources, the film originally was to be released as an Artcraft picture by Famous Players-Lasky Corp., but Griffith bought it back and had it distributed through United Artists.
       The film opened the D. W. Griffith Repertory Season at the George M. Cohan Theatre in New York on 13 May 1919 and also played in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco and possibly other cities before its national release on 20 Oct 1919. The New York presentation included a staged prologue entitled The Dance of Life and Death which was copyrighted by Griffith in 1919 and described as "a dance play in one act." In several scenes within the film, when "Lucy" (Lillian Gish) is told to smile by her abusive father, "Battling Burrows" (Donald Crisp), she uses two fingers to push her lips up to form a smile. This poignant gesture became associated with Gish throughout her life and remains one of the most recognizable images in film history.
       According to the 1921 MPSD , Wilbur Higby, an actor and director, worked on the film in some capacity. According to a modern source, one scene was shot by Karl Brown, special effects were by Hendrick Sartov, the film editor was James Smith and Moon Kwan was the technical advisor. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
ETR
24 May 19
p. 1896.
MPC
5 Jan 17
p. 27.
MPN
24 May 19
p. 3461.
MPW
24 May 19
p. 1158.
New York Morning Telegraph
18 May 1919.
---
New York Times
14 May 19
p. 15.
Photoplay
1 Aug 19
pp. 55-56.
Variety
16 May 19
p. 50.
Wid's
18 May 19
p. 5.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT

NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
Under the personal direction of
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
MUSIC
Mus accompaniment, including original compositions
Mus accompaniment arr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "The Chink and the Child" by Thomas Burke in Limehouse Nights (London, 1916).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Chink and the Child
Release Date:
20 October 1919
Copyright Claimant:
D. W. Griffith
Copyright Date:
31 March 1919
Copyright Number:
LP13755
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in reels):
6
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Eager to change Westerners' violent behavior through his gentle Buddhist teachings, the Yellow Man leaves China. Some years later, as a disillusioned shopkeeper in London's Limehouse district, the Yellow Man meets Lucy Burrows, the abused child of boxer Battling Burrows, and protects her when another Chinese man, Evil Eye, grabs her. When Burrows whips Lucy mercilessly after she spills soup on his hand, she wanders the streets and falls unconscious into the Yellow Man's shop. The Yellow Man washes her wounds and dresses her as a princess, and she experiences happiness for the first time. After a friend of Burrows discovers Lucy, Burrows wins his match and drags Lucy home. When she hides, panic-stricken, in a closet, Burrows breaks the door and beats her to death. The Yellow Man grabs a gun and goes to Lucy's home. When he sees her dead, he shoots Burrows, carries Lucy back to his shop and, after remembering the Buddha's gong, stabs himself to ... +


Eager to change Westerners' violent behavior through his gentle Buddhist teachings, the Yellow Man leaves China. Some years later, as a disillusioned shopkeeper in London's Limehouse district, the Yellow Man meets Lucy Burrows, the abused child of boxer Battling Burrows, and protects her when another Chinese man, Evil Eye, grabs her. When Burrows whips Lucy mercilessly after she spills soup on his hand, she wanders the streets and falls unconscious into the Yellow Man's shop. The Yellow Man washes her wounds and dresses her as a princess, and she experiences happiness for the first time. After a friend of Burrows discovers Lucy, Burrows wins his match and drags Lucy home. When she hides, panic-stricken, in a closet, Burrows breaks the door and beats her to death. The Yellow Man grabs a gun and goes to Lucy's home. When he sees her dead, he shoots Burrows, carries Lucy back to his shop and, after remembering the Buddha's gong, stabs himself to death. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.