The Struggle

  • 1931
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

One of the greatest directors who ever lifted a megaphone, David Wark Griffith was 56 when he made this, his last movie, and it is a shame that he had to bow out with such a dud. He lived until 1948, but the stigma of this film followed him around and he never worked again. In Hollywood, you're only as good (or as bad) as your last movie, and this was one...read more

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One of the greatest directors who ever lifted a megaphone, David Wark Griffith was 56 when he made this, his last movie, and it is a shame that he had to bow out with such a dud. He lived until 1948, but the stigma of this film followed him around and he never worked again. In Hollywood,

you're only as good (or as bad) as your last movie, and this was one of the bad ones. While still in his 30s, Griffith made a Biograph short with a similar theme, A DRUNKARD'S REFORMATION. He'd been out of the business for a year after having done ABRAHAM LINCOLN, and when his treasurer surprised

him with the news that the company had a few bucks in the till, Griffith borrowed some money from a bank, talked UA into advancing some funds in return for the right to distribute, and set out to make this film. Prohibition was the rage and Griffith was against it, so he cowrote the screenplay

with Emerson and Loos, telling the story of mill worker Skelly, a man who can't get a legal drink and consequently takes to downing illegal hooch. The stuff is tainted and he begins to abuse his wife, Johann, and his child. After Skelly goes through delirium tremens and seems to have kicked Demon

Rum out of his life, he and his wife have an argument when she wants him to wear a silly tie, and that's enough to send him back to the bottle and the ruination of his life. It's so over the top that it was eventually re-released as a comedy. Griffith struggled mightily with sound, but the

addition of voices and effects only served to harm his pictures. Made in New York, THE STRUGGLE has some good scenes in the Bronx and a few realistic moments shot in Connecticut at a mill, although most of the dialog between Skelly and Johann (a stage actress making her debut in a remarkably inept

fashion) is ludicrous. From time to time, there are flashes of the old Griffith brilliance, but it's generally a sad closing to his career. The money in Griffith's company came from an overpayment to the IRS that was returned a few years later. The treasurer put the cash in some stocks that

weathered the market's crash and so, in 1931, when everything was cheaper than it had been a few years before, they cashed in and had enough to make the movie. Lots of inadvertent laughs, the kind no creator wants to hear when in the midst of a dramatic scene.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: One of the greatest directors who ever lifted a megaphone, David Wark Griffith was 56 when he made this, his last movie, and it is a shame that he had to bow out with such a dud. He lived until 1948, but the stigma of this film followed him around and he n… (more)

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