Coming Soon to the Oriental Theatre: “BROKEN BLOSSOMS” by D.W. Griffith
MILWAUKEE, WI — If you can be at the corner of Farwell Ave. at North Ave. on Milwaukee’s east side just six blocks from the lake on the afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 14th, you will have the rare opportunity to view one of the masterworks of the director who is called the greatest pioneer in American film: D.W. Griffith.
As presented in 1919, it was a controversial and somewhat shocking social commentary based on Thomas Burke’s story “The Chink and the Child,” but as “Broken Blossoms” it found success in a day when such topics were rarely spoken of. Called ‘the first great American tragedy on film’ it may not be to all tastes, especially as seen from the perspectives of today’s viewers, but as a technical cinematic milestone it is widely haled.
Lillian Gish was 23 years old then, but wonderfully portrays a waif of 15. The Internet Movie Data Base lists a number of professional reviews of the film. There is also a complete synopsis of it online.
If you have seen only Griffith’s monumental “Birth of a Nation” or “Intolerance” you will be quite surprised by the entirely different focus of this intimate tearjerker. Some say it stands along side Chaplin’s “City Lights” as a true classic of the silent screen.
It is always best to view a film in the atmosphere in which it was intended to be seen, and the Oriental movie palace is just such a setting, especially with the largest Kimball Theatre Pipe Organ in a theatre there to even add to the pathos of this film. There are always surprises to go along with the series of “Silents Please” classics, and this title is going to be introduced by actress Angela Lansbury according to Hugh Swofford. Just what other goodies await, you will have to go and see for a mere $8 for adults at 1PM at 2230 N. Farwell Ave.
Further information may be had from the Kimball Theatre Organ Society at: or via phone at: 262-634-8394, the “SILENTS PLEASE” line.
There is a rumor that the Oriental may not be with us in future, so if you want to enjoy one of the last GREAT movie palaces, reserve that Saturday or one of those on the succeeding second Saturdays through May 8th to enjoy this monument to past days of glamour with a wonderful theatre pipe organ to be heard in the setting it, and the movies, were designed for.
We can no longer “meet under the stars” as we once could at the closed Avalon, the Paradise is paradise lost, the Riverside is now only a road house, and the glorious former Warner/Grand stands idle, so this may be an opportunity not to be missed, but unfortunately, I cannot be there, so say a rousing “Hurrah!” as my stand-in!