The Wind


1h 15m 1928
The Wind

Brief Synopsis

In this silent film, a sheltered southern girl fights to adapt to the rough-and-tumble life of the wild West.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Release Date
Nov 23, 1928
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Wind by Dorothy Scarborough (New York & London, 1925).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Silent
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.33 : 1
Film Length
6,721ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

Letty, a girl from Virginia, trainbound for her cousin's ranch in the western prairies, meets Roddy, who hints at a marriage proposal. At the ranch, Cora's children and husband become too fond of Letty, and she is forced to leave. With nowhere to go, she decides to accept Roddy's implied invitation to become his wife. When she discovers him already married, she hastily marries Lige, a roughhewn son of the soil at whom she had previously scoffed. While Lige is away for a round-up of wild horses during a particularly fierce windstorm, Roddy forces his way into Lige's home and stays the night with Letty, urging her to go with him in the morning. She refuses, shoots him when he becomes insistent, laboriously drags his body outside, and buries it in the shifting sand. Letty spends a day of terror that approaches madness; but Lige returns, and Letty decides that she no longer wishes to return to Virginia--they will face the wind together.

Photo Collections

The Wind - Movie Poster
The Wind - Movie Poster

Videos

Movie Clip

Wind, The (1928) -- (Movie Clip) Lillian Gish Introduction Lillian Gish turned 90 in 1983, the year she made this introduction to Victor Seastrom's celebrated 1928 film The Wind, her version of her own agency never in dispute.
Wind, The (1928) -- (Movie Clip) Ghost Horse Southern Letty (Lillian Gish) on her trip west to visit cousin Cora (Dorothy Cumming), getting a lift from cowboy Lige (Lars Hanson), with fantasy, then getting on too well with Cora's husband Bev (Edward Earle), early in Victor Seastrom's The Wind, 1928.
Wind, The (1928) -- (Movie Clip) Awful Forsaken Place Out of town Letty (Lillian Gish) dressed up for the dance, cowboys Sourdough (William Orlamond) and Lige (Lars Hanson) both making unlikely bids for her hand, the more viable Roddy (Montagu Love) getting closer, when a storm blows up, in Victor Seastrom's The Wind, 1928.
Wind, The (1928) -- (Movie Clip) Puny But Irresistible Director Victor Sjostrom’s opening, from the novel by Dorothy Scarborough, Frances Marion’s script and, in between, a story outline by star Lillian Gish, in which she, as “Letty,” begins a journey west, predatory Montagu Love as “Roddy” imposing himself, in MGM’s The Wind, 1928.
Wind, The (1928) -- (Movie Clip) You've Been My Wife A Whole Hour Desperate Southerner Letty (MGM star Lillian Gish, who wrote the story outline herself), having alienated the Western relatives she was visiting, has just married rough-hewn cowboy Lige (Lars Hanson) and appears unready for the ramifications, in The Wind, 1928, directed by Victor Sjostrom.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Release Date
Nov 23, 1928
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Wind by Dorothy Scarborough (New York & London, 1925).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Silent
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.33 : 1
Film Length
6,721ft (8 reels)

Articles

The Wind - The Wind


Lillian Gish's reputation may have been established in several historic D.W. Griffith pictures, but she usually ended up playing a very talented second fiddle to Griffith's legend as a film pioneer. Nevertheless, Gish's genius is most readily apparent in Victor Seastrom's The Wind (1928), a psychologically-charged character study that hinges on her arsenal of small, telling gestures. This is one of the classic performances of silent cinema, and it came at a time when talkies were on the verge of burying the silents forever.

One could argue that the true protagonist of The Wind is the wind itself, a mournful sandstorm that almost drives Gish's character insane. She plays Letty Mason, a lonely Virginia woman who travels by train to the Texas ranch of her cousin, Cora (Dorothy Cumming.) While on the train, Letty strikes up a flirtation with Roddy (Montagu Love), a Fort Worth man who implies that he might want to marry her. Later, at the ranch, Cora grows jealous of Letty when she develops a friendship with her husband (Edward Earle). She accuses Letty of trying to steal him away from her, and kicks her out of the house.

When Letty discovers, much to her dismay, that her train-ride suitor, Roddy, already has a wife, she marries an awkward cowboy named Lige (Lars Hanson.) Lige understands that Letty doesn't love him, but he still wants to take care of her until he can earn enough money to send her back to Virginia. It would be ruining things to say what happens next, but Letty's story is an unforgettably harrowing tale of betrayal, murder, and, finally, redemption. The wind blows remorselessly throughout, serving as a reminder of her tortured psychological state. At one point, it literally (and, in filmmaking terms, quite brilliantly) uncovers her darkest secret.

The Wind is no joyride, to say the least, and the original cut was even more depressing. It hued closely to Dorothy Scarborough's source novel, in which the wind wins, taking Letty with it. Though MGM's head of production, Irving Thalberg, had qualms about such a downer of a third act, it tested well, so he decided to let it stand. But the studio's powerful Eastern office decreed that the finale needed to be more upbeat, and a new one was shot.

Seastrom, who was one of the key figures in Swedish film in the 1920s, was so disheartened by the tampering, he moved back to his native country to resume his career. He had traveled to the United States to direct such hits as He Who Gets Slapped (1924), with Lon Chaney, and The Divine Woman (1928), with Great Garbo, but he was eventually just as successful as an actor. His performance in Ingmar Bergman's 1957 classic, Wild Strawberries as the dying old man is generally considered his greatest role.

Gish also had less-than-fond memories of The Wind. The Mojave Desert shoot was a nightmare in which 120 degree temperatures melted the film emulsion (this problem was ingeniously solved by freezing the footage, which was then defrosted and developed back in Culver City.) But Gish was victimized by more than mere heat. "Working on The Wind was one of my worst experiences in filmmaking," she once wrote. "Sand was blown at me by eight airplane propellers and sulphur pots were used to give the effect of a sandstorm. I was burned and in danger of having my eyes put out. My hair was burned by the hot sun and nearly ruined by the sulphur smoke and sand." She got over it, though, and had the longest career in movie history. Her last performance was in Alan Alda's 1986 comedy, Sweet Liberty, which came out an amazing 74 years after her debut performance!

Directed by: Victor Seastrom
Screenplay: Frances Marion, based on the novel by Dorothy Scarborough
Titles: John Colton
Cinematography: John Arnold
Editing: Conrad A. Nervig
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons and Edward Withers
Principal Cast: Lillian Gish (Letty Mason), Lars Hanson (Lige), Montagu Love (Wirt Roddy), Dorothy Cumming (Cora), Edward Earle (Beverly), William Orlamond (Sourdough.)
BW-82m.

by Paul Tatara
The Wind  - The Wind

The Wind - The Wind

Lillian Gish's reputation may have been established in several historic D.W. Griffith pictures, but she usually ended up playing a very talented second fiddle to Griffith's legend as a film pioneer. Nevertheless, Gish's genius is most readily apparent in Victor Seastrom's The Wind (1928), a psychologically-charged character study that hinges on her arsenal of small, telling gestures. This is one of the classic performances of silent cinema, and it came at a time when talkies were on the verge of burying the silents forever. One could argue that the true protagonist of The Wind is the wind itself, a mournful sandstorm that almost drives Gish's character insane. She plays Letty Mason, a lonely Virginia woman who travels by train to the Texas ranch of her cousin, Cora (Dorothy Cumming.) While on the train, Letty strikes up a flirtation with Roddy (Montagu Love), a Fort Worth man who implies that he might want to marry her. Later, at the ranch, Cora grows jealous of Letty when she develops a friendship with her husband (Edward Earle). She accuses Letty of trying to steal him away from her, and kicks her out of the house. When Letty discovers, much to her dismay, that her train-ride suitor, Roddy, already has a wife, she marries an awkward cowboy named Lige (Lars Hanson.) Lige understands that Letty doesn't love him, but he still wants to take care of her until he can earn enough money to send her back to Virginia. It would be ruining things to say what happens next, but Letty's story is an unforgettably harrowing tale of betrayal, murder, and, finally, redemption. The wind blows remorselessly throughout, serving as a reminder of her tortured psychological state. At one point, it literally (and, in filmmaking terms, quite brilliantly) uncovers her darkest secret. The Wind is no joyride, to say the least, and the original cut was even more depressing. It hued closely to Dorothy Scarborough's source novel, in which the wind wins, taking Letty with it. Though MGM's head of production, Irving Thalberg, had qualms about such a downer of a third act, it tested well, so he decided to let it stand. But the studio's powerful Eastern office decreed that the finale needed to be more upbeat, and a new one was shot. Seastrom, who was one of the key figures in Swedish film in the 1920s, was so disheartened by the tampering, he moved back to his native country to resume his career. He had traveled to the United States to direct such hits as He Who Gets Slapped (1924), with Lon Chaney, and The Divine Woman (1928), with Great Garbo, but he was eventually just as successful as an actor. His performance in Ingmar Bergman's 1957 classic, Wild Strawberries as the dying old man is generally considered his greatest role. Gish also had less-than-fond memories of The Wind. The Mojave Desert shoot was a nightmare in which 120 degree temperatures melted the film emulsion (this problem was ingeniously solved by freezing the footage, which was then defrosted and developed back in Culver City.) But Gish was victimized by more than mere heat. "Working on The Wind was one of my worst experiences in filmmaking," she once wrote. "Sand was blown at me by eight airplane propellers and sulphur pots were used to give the effect of a sandstorm. I was burned and in danger of having my eyes put out. My hair was burned by the hot sun and nearly ruined by the sulphur smoke and sand." She got over it, though, and had the longest career in movie history. Her last performance was in Alan Alda's 1986 comedy, Sweet Liberty, which came out an amazing 74 years after her debut performance! Directed by: Victor Seastrom Screenplay: Frances Marion, based on the novel by Dorothy Scarborough Titles: John Colton Cinematography: John Arnold Editing: Conrad A. Nervig Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons and Edward Withers Principal Cast: Lillian Gish (Letty Mason), Lars Hanson (Lige), Montagu Love (Wirt Roddy), Dorothy Cumming (Cora), Edward Earle (Beverly), William Orlamond (Sourdough.) BW-82m. by Paul Tatara

Quotes

Trivia

The wind in the film was created by the propellers of eight aircraft stationed on location in the Mojave Desert.

This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1993.

The film's artificially happy ending was insisted upon by the studio after test audiences balked at the original ending, where the insane Letty wanders into the desert, certain to die. This more appropriate ending reportedly still exists in Europe.

Notes

Originally, the film's ending followed the novel's: Letty, driven insane, wanders off into the desert. According to modern sources, studio officials required a happy ending, however, before the film's release.