Griffith and the New York Police Dept.

The Burglar’s Dilemma
R: D.W. Griffith. K: G.W. Bitzer. D: Lionel Barrymore, Henry B. Walthall, Robert Harron, Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish. P: Biograph Company. USA 1912

“In this Cain & Abel inspired story, Walthall‘s character is jealous of his brother’s (Lionel Barrymore) popularity. In an argument, they struggle, and Walthall’s character pushes the larger brother to the floor. Fearing he has killed his brother, Walthall’s character panics; but, coincidentally, a reluctant young burglar (Bobby Harron) begins to enter the brothers’ quarters. Amazed at his luck, Henry’s character locks the burglar in the room with his fallen brother and fetches the police. The burglar will now be blamed for the murder. When the brother turns up alive, though, there will be some explaining to do. Actually Barrymore’s character forgives Walthall’s character surprisingly easily, especially considering his brother’s first reaction to his imagined murder of his own flesh and blood was to try and get away with it. Henry’s performance is excellent in this 15-minute short–from his devious eyes when locking the burglar in the room to the nervous rubbing of his knee while the authorities inspected his motionless brother.”
Henry B. Walthall: Film Reviews – The Silents 1911-1915

“An exciting crime story, with the finale taken from headline stories about the work of New York police. The New York police department was in the spotlight after the gangland slaying of Herman Rosenthal. A point of interest: Bobby Harron’s interrogation by Alfred Paget and John Dillon was Griffith’s version of the widely publicized third degree.”
Russell Merritt
Flicker Alley

“States have adopted several different schemes for classifying murders by degree. The most common separates murder into two degrees, and treats voluntary and involuntary manslaughter as separate crimes that do not constitute murder. (…)
Voluntary manslaughter: (also referred to as third-degree murder), sometimes called a crime of passion murder, is any intentional killing that involves no prior intent to kill, and which was committed under such circumstances that would ’cause a reasonable person to become emotionally or mentally disturbed’. Both this and second-degree murder are committed on the spot under a spur-of-the-moment choice, but the two differ in the magnitude of the circumstances surrounding the crime. For example, a bar fight that results in death would ordinarily constitute second-degree murder. If that same bar fight stemmed from a discovery of infidelity, however, it may be mitigated to voluntary manslaughter.”