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Lady in the DarkIris Barry and the Art of Film$
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Robert Sitton

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231165785

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231165785.001.0001

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“The Master” and his Minions

“The Master” and his Minions

(p.269) 25 “The Master” and his Minions
Lady in the Dark

Robert Sitton

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on the events of the 1940s. These include a trying encounter between Iris Barry and filmmaker D. W. Griffith. In 1939 the Film Library acquired some 400 Griffith films, mostly one reel in length, made for the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company in 1908–13, a portion of a large collection found in a warehouse. Barry conceived a project to study the prints firsthand, then to show the films and publish a monograph on Griffith's career. Rudely, Griffith ignored both the retrospective of his films that Iris prepared and the publication of the first serious study of his work. Not known publicly at the time, however, was the fact that the Griffith tribute had gone ahead over the objections of Griffith himself. In an act of stunning ingratitude, he attempted to wrest curatorial control of the project from Iris, whom he regarded as unsympathetic to American films, and place it in the hands of people of his own choosing. Iris also felt other pressures to align herself and the Film Library with American films and do what she could to counter the impression that she was too friendly to foreign films, especially Soviet ones.

Keywords:   D. W. Griffith, filmmakers, American films, retrospective, foreign films, Film Library, Museum of Modern Art

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