THE WHITE ROSE
starring Mae Marsh, Carol Dempster, Neil Hamilton and Ivor Novello
MOTION PICTURE MAGAZINE
August, 1923

D.W. Griffith has certain ingredients with which he compounds his human productions. Girlhood tears . . . young men with shining ideals . . . a heroine finding her Gethsemane in her nameless baby . . . broad comedy . . . and a last minute race to the rescue of somebody or something.

"The White Rose" offers Mr. Griffith all of these things, excepting the last named. There is no harrowing race, rescue or escape. But all of the other things are there in abundance.

To consider it generally, it seems to us that Griffith had many pieces which, put together, should have made a beautiful and charming love story. Only somehow they got together wrong. Some pieces got in which should never have been there. And the love story is consequently less beautiful and charming that it would otherwise have been, and too long both in unfolding and concluding. There are episodes here and episodes there in the poignancy and beauty of which you can sense Griffith sympathetically behind his camera. Other times you feel he might be ther, but you are not sure.

The story finds its stage along the bayous and in the manor houses of the old plantations of Louisiana. With this material, Griffith does all the things he does to very well, making life charming to behold, a melody of magnolia blossoms, twilights and crooned negro lullabies.

Mae Marsh and Ivor Novello are the hero and heroine of one story; Carol Dempster and Neil Hamilton the hero and heroine of the other, with their stories intertwining.

Carol Dempster had for us an added appeal, and we liked both Neil Hamilton and Ivor Novello. We think, too, that Mr. Novello has even greater potentialities.

Of Mae Marsh? She has come back to Griffith after several years away from his guiding hand. And her translation of Teasie, the flighty little cigaret girl who covers her natural tenderness, timidity and reserve with the modern jazz accompaniments because these gaudy thing help her sales, is something finer than Miss Marsh has done since she tried her own wings. Perhaps here and there she tried a little too hard, sacrificing repression. But on the whole, her Teasie is a portrayal worthy of the combined efforts of Griffith and Marsh. We are glad for her that she has returned to Griffith, and we are glad for him as well.

And if the Griffith hand seems to have lost some of its cunning in the final compilation, it has lost none of its mastery in dealing with human emotions. Even while we don't believe that people would do the things the people of "The White Rose" did in just the way they did them, we do believe firmly that they were people. Not wooden, painted puppets . . . rather warm human beings with beating hearts.

And here, after the manner of critics considering Griffith productions, we stop to marvel again at his incongruous humor. It is beyond our ken how a man of Griffith's sensitiveness can interpolate the rough comedy which is ever present.


Video Source: Grapevine

Return to review page