The Cricket on the Hearth (1909)

Article 4189 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-28-2013
Directed by D.W. Griffith
Featuring Owen Moore, Violet Mersereau, Linda Arvidson
Country: USA
What it is: Dickensian drama

A young man, having been at sea for three years, finds that his girl is now engaged to a much older man who she doesn’t love. In order to get close to her and win her back, he disguises himself as an old man. However, the disguise is penetrated by a man who thinks the stranger is having an affair with his wife…

From what I gather, a stage version of this story was, for a while, more popular than the stage version of “A Christmas Carol”. I’m assuming that it was still very popular at the time this version was made; I found it rather difficult to follow myself, and this might be because people were expected to already be familiar with the story. After watching it, I had to hunt up a couple of plot descriptions to figure it out, and one thing became apparent; the fantastic content in the story (to wit, a cricket from the hearth that appears as a fairy to keep the jealous husband from committing murder) seems to have been jettisoned completely for this adaptation; the husband does hover around a fireplace a bit, but if he’s talking to a fairy, it’s not apparent. That leaves us with a confusing and not quite satisfying melodrama, and I also found it interesting that the Christmas element seems to be missing as well. This is certainly not Griffith at his best.


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