The Greater Love
R: Rollin S. Sturgeon. D: Robert Thornby, Fred Burns, Edna Fisher, Charles Bennett. P: Vitagraph Company of America. USA 1912
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
“In the opening scene, as a young ranch woman teases the local sheriff who loves her, a wanted poster introduces the Kansas Kid. Using a set of binoculars, she spots the injured outlaw coming down a distant hillside, and the sheriff, with her father’s help, brings him into the ranch house, where she bandages his head wound. They are attracted to one another, which incites the sheriff, and she has to break up a threatened gunfight. After writing a note revealing who he is , the Kid rides away; chancing to read the note, the sheriff goes in pursuit. Noticing the sheriff in the distance, the Kid attaches a note on a stick, which leads the sheriff to an open area, where they face off on horseback. In the gunfight that ensues, the Kid wounds the sheriff and discovers a photo of the young woman in his hand. Now the Kid bandages his rival, brings him back to the ranch, and, as the sheriff’s men look on, gives him a drink of water from a rain barrel. The sheriff shakes hands with the Kid, and the young woman and her father thank him; but the sheriff’s men still arrest the Kid and lead him away.
This surviving film print includes a range of tinting characteristic of the period, which differentiates one time of day from another as well as exteriors from interiors. It also uses a series of objects to effectively highlight key moments in the story : the wanted poster, a rain barrel, a flower, several written notes, and a photograph. Finally, like Essanay’s slightly earlier The Loafer, this Vitagraph film deploys eyeline-match* editing, in not one but two scenes: the first involving the sheriff and the young woman; the second (with one mismatch), the gunfight between the sheriff and the Kid.”
Le giornate del cinema muto
Pordenone 1-8 ottobre 2016, p. 178 (PDF)
*An eyeline match is a film editing technique associated with the continuity editing system. It is based on the premise that an audience will want to see what the character on-screen is seeing. An eyeline match begins with a character looking at something off-screen, followed by a cut of another object or person.