The Greatest Thing in Life
|The Greatest Thing in Life|
|Directed by||D. W. Griffith|
|Produced by||D. W. Griffith|
|Written by||Lillian Gish
D. W. Griffith
Stanner E.V. Taylor
|Cinematography||G. W. Bitzer,
with Henrik Sartov
|Editing by||James Smith|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release date(s)||16 December 1918 (LA)
22 December 1918 (NYC)
|Running time||70 minutes|
The Greatest Thing in Life is a 1918 American drama film about World War I, directed by D. W. Griffith and starring Lillian Gish, Robert Harron, and David Butler. The film is considered to be a lost film, as no prints are known to exist.
This film was released later in the same year as Griffith's more famous World War I film, Hearts of the World, which also stars Lillian Gish and Robert Harron. The Greatest Thing in Life was renowned for two main aspects: the groundbreaking portrait photography style of Henrik Sartov, and a "new and daring" interracial kiss between a white officer and a black soldier (both male).
- Robert Harron as Edward Livingston
- Lillian Gish as Jeannette Peret
- David Butler as Mr. Le Bebe
- Peaches Jackson as Miss Peaches
- Adolph Lestina as Leo Peret
- Elmo Lincoln as The American soldier
- Edward Peil Sr. as The German officer
- Kate Bruce as Jeannette's aunt
- ZaSu Pitts as (scenes deleted)
- Ernest Butterworth as (uncredited)
- Carol Dempster as Dancer (uncredited)
- Fred Malatesta as (uncredited)
- Lucille Young as (uncredited)
After attaining significant fame as a director of war pictures, D. W. Griffith was invited by the British government to film on actual World War I battlefields. Griffith had originally intended to make only a single picture with the material, but came back with over 86,000 feet and decided to turn it into three.
The chief production was Hearts of the World, with The Great Love and The Greatest Thing in Life made with the leftover battlefield footage. Some of the footage was filmed on the Marne River in Château-Thierry, France. There is some speculation, however, as to whether some of the shots originated in Salisbury Plain, in the United Kingdom, or was footage purchased by Griffith from Franz Kleinschmidt.
See also 
- "Silent Era: The Greatest Thing in Life". silentera. Retrieved 2008-06-19.
- Merrit, Russel, quoted in The Griffith Project. Usai, Paolo Cherchi, and Cynthia Rowell, eds. Vol. 9: Films Produced in 1916-8. London: British Film Institute, 2005. Pgs. 196-9.
- Gish, Lillian, with Ann Pinchot. Lillian Gish: The Movies, Mr. Griffith, and Me, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1969. Pgs. 202.
- Wakerman, John, ed. World Film Directors. Vol I: 1890-1945. New York: The H. W. Wilson Company, 1987.
- Gish, Lillian, with Ann Pinchot. Lillian Gish: The Movies, Mr. Griffith, and Me, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1969. Pgs. 202-3.
- Usai, Paolo Cherchi, and Cynthia Rowell, eds. The Griffith Project. Vol. 9: Films Produced in 1916-8. London: British Film Institute, 2005. Pgs. 196-9.
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