Sally of the Sawdust
(DW Griffith, 1925). Its a small irony of film history that humorless, moralizing D.W. Griffith would supervise W.C. Fieldss screen debut. Playing a boozy carnival con man, Fields is surprisingly close to his essential persona; he gets to fleece numerous suckers and even kick a dog, but his misanthropy is diluted by his affection an orphaned circus girl (Griffith's last protégée, Carol Dempster). Sally is minor Griffith but it demonstrates that, whatever the genre, he remained the master manipulator of human emotion.
Sat., Nov. 29, 2 p.m., 2008
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.