Ahhhh.Lillian Gish.........she has been a film actress since the first says of film. You cannot underestimate her importance back in her day.... the Angelina Jolie of her time...... her influenence and impact lasted for decades........ there are numerous awards named after her, she donated heavily to the arts.....and was still at it, making bit cameo's.....well into her 90's.
Yes, she lived during the hey days of the Harlem Renaissance........but then, she lived for the entire dang century as well, so she touched many generations.
Perhaps her connection is with her earlier films......which anyone who has ever watched a Little Rascal video will attest to.......were wildly racist by today's standards. But in that time.....this was more in line with only trying to portray "reality".......which, of course, *IS* and was certainly back then,---- wildly racist.
Her film classic.....Birth of a Nation....is studied in ANY College film 101 course,
The argument still rages to this day, .........was it promoting racism, or merely showing how stupid it was.......in an avant garde, ahead of it's time way.?
Some of course, see it plainly as blatantly promoting racism, and others see it, as trying to stand against it.
Margaret Mitchell faced the same criticism when she wrote "Gone With the Wind".....and later, that criticism was cemented forever when the book was turned into a film.
Was she glorifying and promoting slavery? Or was she showing how awful it was?
Gish always insisted, that she was anti-racist....and later devoted parts of her life and wealth to helping African Americans.....to help clear some of the "stench" that still lingered from those who thought Birth of a Nation *promoted* racism-.
Mitchell,on the other hand, is known to have said that she was doing NEITHER.........not promoting it, nor rallying against it, and merely tried to tell the story, from the perspective of a southern lady.........which she was. She resented the criticism, and swore that people agreed it was a FAIR representation of the period....without weighing in on any political aspect of it.(Which some took to mean, that she had no problem with racism,since she wouldn't flat out denounce it)
You have to remember the times........early 20's and 30's.........and Gish did what she could all around. She was well loved and adored by fans all over, at her death
I was always a Paulette Goddard man, myself. I use to have this awesome poster of Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard in my apartment.