title: D.W. Griffith and the Dawn of Film Art

title: D. W. Griffith's The Lonely Villa
title: Structural Outline

NOTES: This synopsis is derived from an original 16 mm print made by Kemp Niver's Renovare company of the 35 mm paper print held by the Library of Congress. Other than poor vertical registration, the quality is superb. Aside from a [possibly reconstructed] main title, all titles are missing. The difference in length between the paper print (283 16 mm feet = 707 35 mm feet) and the advertised release length (750 feet) suggests that there were 3 intertitles (plus the insert in shot 9). The number in parentheses after each shot represents its length rounded to the nearest second, assuming a projection speed of 18 frames per second. I have included one still for each of the 11 basic camera setups (except the second rural road, shot 51).

  1. BUSHES OUTSIDE HOME. Three robbers crouch in shadowy bushes, front left, looking across the road to a home at rear right. One writes a note. Another leaves with a bundle. (28)

  2. The Lonely Villa -- shot 1
    The bushes (shot 1)
  3. STUDY. A father, mother and three daughters are all reading. Two servants enter and indicate that they are going out. The mother nods her consent. They leave. (14)

  4. HALLWAY. The servants sneak a kiss and go out the front door. (14)

  5. FRONT PORCH. The servants go down the stairs and walk off. (10)

  6. BUSHES. The robber who had left returns, finishes putting on tattered clothes and walks toward the house. (11)

  7. PORCH. He checks his pocket for a letter and goes up the steps to the door. (14)

  8. The Lonely Villa -- shot 11
    The porch (shot 11)
  9. STUDY. The oldest daughter [Mary Pickford] goes out. (7)

  10. HALL. The daughter opens the door, lets in the robber, who looks around warily as they head to the door to the study. (17)

  11. STUDY. The father receives the robber, examines the letter and reacts. [At this point in the paper print there is a flash frame reading “LETTER” – a review of the time (more a plot summary than criticism as such) in the New York Dramatic Mirror (reprinted in Stanley Kaufman’s American Film Criticism) stated: “Robbers lure a suburban citizen from his home with a fake message supposed to be from the man’s mother, stating that she has started on a earlier train and for him to meet her at the depot at 10:30.”] He gestures that he has to go out, sends the girls into another room to the right, closes the window and drapes, takes a pistol out of his desk and shows it to the wife. When he turns to put his coat on, the robber takes out the bullets. The husband says goodbye and leaves with the robber. (85)

  12. The Lonely Villa -- shot 21
    The hall (shot 21)
  13. HALL. The father and robber leave. (11)

  14. PORCH. They descend, the father gives the robber a tip and gestures for his car. (21)

  15. BUSHES. The robber returns to the others. (5)

  16. PORCH. A car pulls up, the father gets in, they drive off. (10)

  17. BUSHES. The robbers watch as the car travels down the road and then walk toward the house. (19)

  18. PORCH. With many gestures, the robbers go up to the porch and front door. (19)

  19. The Lonely Villa -- shot 27
    The study (shot 27)
  20. STUDY. All are reading. The little girl looks furtively toward the door but the mother reassures her. The girl looks again and this time the mother tells the girls to wait and goes out with the oldest daughter. (39)

  21. HALL. They fearfully go toward the door, where the mother bends down to look out the keyhole. (14)

  22. PORCH. The robbers are outside the front door. (3)

  23. HALL. The mother leaps back and they escape through the door to the study just as the robbers smash down the front door and enter the hall. (14)

  24. STUDY. The mother and daughter enter and slam the door shut. (3)

  25. The Lonely Villa -- shot 42
    Outside the inn (shot 42)
  26. HALL. The robbers start to force the door open with a crowbar. (5)

  27. STUDY. Mother and girls move furniture to reinforce the door from the hall. The mother starts to swoon. (17)

  28. OUTSIDE AN INN. The car drives up. [Slight pan left from the road to the entrance.] The father goes in, while the driver looks under the hood. (28)

  29. INSIDE THE INN. The father asks the desk clerk to use the phone and begins talking. (8)

  30. STUDY. The mother looks toward the phone. (2)

  31. The Lonely Villa -- shot 33
    Inside the inn (shot 33)
  32. INN. As the father continues talking he begins to become alarmed. (14)

  33. STUDY. On the phone, the wife gestures outside as the girls huddle protectively in the background. (3)

  34. INN. The father puts the phone down, slams his fist into his palm and rushes out. (5)

  35. OUTSIDE INN. Men are working on the car engine and make an explanation. (8)

  36. HALL. The robbers continue to work on the door. One goes out. (5)

  37. INN. Returning, the father picks up the phone excitedly. (4)

  38. The Lonely Villa -- shot 38
    Cutting the wire (shot 38)
  39. STUDY. The mother is talking excitedly. (4)

  40. INN. The father continues to talk excitedly. (6)

  41. STUDY. The mother puts the phone down. (4)

  42. INN. The father remains on the phone. (5)

  43. STUDY. The wife opens the gun and sees there are no bullets. (6)

  44. INN. On the phone, the father is perturbed. (4)

  45. The Lonely Villa -- shot 46
    The gypsy camp (shot 46)
  46. EDGE OF ROOF. A robber cuts a wire. (6)

  47. INN. The father jiggles the phone in its cradle. (5)

  48. STUDY. The mother does the same. (5)

  49. INN. The father slams down the phone, looks around desperately, runs out. (9)

  50. OUTSIDE INN. The men continue to work on the car, point across the street. A policeman comes up. All run across the street [slight pan to the right to follow them]. (13)

  51. STUDY. The wife is getting panicky. (5)

  52. The Lonely Villa -- shot 48
    A road (shot 48)
  53. HALL. The robbers continue to work on the door. (4)

  54. STUDY. All huddle together at the rear right. (3)

  55. GYPSY CAMP. All run up, offer money to a man sitting in a horse-drawn wagon, get in and drive off. (15)

  56. STUDY. As the door breaks down, the mother and girls flee to the right. (9)

  57. RURAL ROAD. The wagon comes forward. (8)

  58. STUDY. The robbers start to break down the door to the right. (5)

  59. The Lonely Villa -- shot 52
    The other room (shot 52)
  60. ANOTHER ROOM. The wife and girls push against the door, barely holding it shut. (4)

  61. ANOTHER RURAL ROAD. The wagon rounds a bend and comes toward the camera. (5)

  62. THE OTHER ROOM. The robbers barge in. One attacks the mother and rips the collar off her dress, while the others begin hammering a desk drawer. The men rush in, subdue the robbers and haul them away. The father hugs and reassures his family. (35)

Copyright 2010 by Peter Gutmann

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