There's a marvellous moment when Barthelmess, as the gentle Chinese who offers Gish shelter from her brutal father, gathers an imaginary spray of moondust to sprinkle on her hair as she huddles in bed. But for all that he is making a fervent plea for tolerance, Griffith is careful to let the hint of romance go no further: miscegenation has no place in his hoarily traditional melodrama of waifs and strays and the villains who make them so. This is in fact Griffith at his best and worst. On the debit side, some risibly highfalutin titles, some naive attempts to impose wider contexts on what is essentially a fragile short story (already stretched dangerously thin), and a monotonously simplistic view of the drunken prizefighter father's brutality. Very much on the credit side, though, are stretches of pure Griffith poetry, marvellous use of light and shadow in cameraman Billy Bitzer's evocation of foggy Limehouse, and a truly unforgettable performance from Gish.
Cast and crew