Betrayed By a Handprint – 1908

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Betrayed By a Handprint – 1908

Post by Kitty » Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:55 am

I watched this nice D.W. Griffith film because Gene Gauntier was sited to be in it. She is billed on IMDB as ‘A Partygoer’. There were a few partygoers, and because of the cinematography style and the fact that this 10 minute short is over 100 years old, it is hard to tell which one she is. Nonetheless, this film is very interesting in the fact that the star of the show is Florence Lawrence, the Biograph girl!
Florence shines in her role of a girl who plays cards and loses everything at the house of a rich lady, who is presented a string of pearls. A palm-reader comes and has everyone put their handprint on a piece of paper for him to read. That night, plagued by the idea of being a pauper, Florence decides it would be a brilliant idea to go out the window, risk life and limb on the ledge of the house, and crawl to the next window to the rich lady’s room while she is sleeping and steal the jewels. She is successful, and has a laughing fit when she finds the jewels, strangely enough not waking up the rich lady. She must be a very heavy sleeper!
Florence crawls back to her room on the dangerous ledge, and upon re-entering her own bedroom, has an another ingenious idea! She has to find a place to hide the jewels that, after all, were not really hers, so she cuts a huge piece of soap in half, hollows it out, and hides the jewels inside. She then can get her beauty rest, and so falls peacefully asleep.
Meanwhile, the rich lady wakes up, and realizing her jewelry is gone, she looks on the dresser and sees a handprint that was made on a piece of paper that was lying there. She compares the paper from downstairs to the one in her bedroom, and upon being discovered that it is Florence’s handprint flies to her sleeping chambers to accuse her of the theft, and in all the flailing, the soap drops, and out pour the pearls. The rich lady makes a grand motion to get out of her house. In the next scene, the rich lady takes pity on the poor soul who lost everything in her gambling addiction and decides to forgive and take her under her wing in the end.
This was an early short directed by the great D.W. Griffith. My favorite part was the super closeup of the soap while Florence hid the jewels in it. It was really a rare shot in those early days. Of course, the actors had not yet learned the art of subtle acting, and there is a lot of exaggerated gestures that will make the modern audience cringe. Boy did that Florence Lawrence have a head of hair on her!
Rating 6/10
You trying to tell me you didn't hear that shriek? That was something trying to get out of its premature grave, and I don't want to be here when it does. - Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

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