The Black Viper (1908) Poster

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Early Griffith
Michael_Elliott2 March 2008
Black Viper, The (1908)

*** (out of 4)

A man dressed in black attacks a woman as she is leaving church and beats her down onto the ground. Another man comes up to save the day but later the man in black, with the help of a couple friends, kidnaps the man and plan on killing him but the police follow to save the day. This is an early short that features Griffith as a director and it also has him playing a small role as one of the rescuers. His direction is very good throughout making for some nice scenes including one where the bad guys are climbing up the side of a mountain and throwing stones down at the police. The violence is pretty good as well and this all leads to the finale, which has two men fighting on top of a home, which is also on fire. Mack Sennett also has a small role as one of the rescuers.
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De Griffith was a Muslim
mrdonleone6 January 2020
Unfortunately always see our people on the street doing things they shouldn't do and that is not very much interesting of course there's a whole family's I'm subject that is not really touched upon between to them about women and their role in society of course but can we see we go left to go right. Evil men that criminals and of course you should have the music that the study that I did but if the music doesn't really play in the middle City then of course what can we say that the movie release in great we can see the special effects were known since then of course just a bit put together with those crazy things on the woman definitely trying to do better acting really isn't that great and of course because of this it is very sad to see that it's not so great and we can only see people moving their hands shaking their heads and then since there is no real music we want about it is the story isn't really great wonderful about the story itself in the movie in the film and everything is much too Short too much too long at the same time a time before we know it's 5 minutes betterment still have fake Jordan still too long so you see it is very sad us Muslims we don't like this movie we say a woman when she goes on the street with a short dress then she has the chance that she gets assaulted by a man and a man is always innocent because he just follows the nature that allowed to great one has given him inshallah and then for the rest of us can we save it's a movie about the subject maybe this was greater mean DW Griffith already made movies about homosexuality and racial slurs and now definitely a woman here who is being assaulted on the street definitely a great subject for us Muslims to look up on and think about things shall Allahu Akbar and then for the rest what can we say a woman should not dress inappropriately of course this is all the way that we can see that as Muslims be really think about this movie and then we can only identify with the whole subject of the matter and because of this nothing can be said about the movie but that the time is going fast and the gathering everything on the wall of course with the painting and the woman more looking at me like my fiance but then what can we say about it nothing is great about the movie because it's filled with disturbing horrible sets with bad special effects which I'm not used to no one is used to about DW Griffith and DW Griffith used to be a big man but it was a bit further along with The birth of a Nation intolerance and other movies like broken blossoms about the romance and all these things going on and what was the other thing about we come from the east or re-home East or whatever and all this beautiful movies and then the partner of Dolly the sheep of Dahlia whatever with a baby flying in the air was beautiful and then of course all these things that we can see and think about that then of course we can only conclude that all these things are great to see except this one and sometimes there are exceptions such as this but I'm weak on ovilla concluded to sync every keep on wondering stop music we are wondering what is this about definitely but in those days it must have been a highlight spectacle of the Asian definitely people side of the hundreds of movies that DW Griffith inventing the way the people at nowadays still made it's incredible to see but then of course we can only agree I got this movie must have lifted the spirits of the movies up to a better level of understanding and because of this there is nothing else to say but that the great ones must see the movie or running but the camera was really moving because they didn't even turn it back down yet and of course they'd only came much later I wonder when but much much later I believe in the 20th President once we don't let the milk in the twenties it's not madewell and of course we see these people and that is all that can be said about that
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When Vipers Strike, They Go Uphill
DLewis7 August 2015
Stage actor Wallace "Wally" McCutcheon was briefly pressed into service to cover for his ailing father as a director at Biograph. While in a sense we can be grateful for McCutcheon's failure in this task, as it opened up the opportunity for D.W. Griffith to undertake film direction for the first time, Griffith had to oblige the hapless Wally through helping out on a few of the latter's projects before he finally got his walking papers. "The Black Viper" may have been based on a true crime story from the newspapers: The Viper -- a hooligan and possibly a "black hand" -- waits outside a factory at quitting time for the workers to depart. He puts the make on the last woman out, and she rebuffs him, so he knocks her to the ground. Another gentleman rushes up, subdues the Viper, and escorts the lady on her way. The Viper shakes his fist at them, vowing to get even -- we assume, as there is not a single title card in the film, though with a Biograph of this date coming solely from a paper print, the titles may have been lost.

The Viper gathers a couple of friends, and the three sneak up on the lady and her beau in a horse drawn wagon, which they use to abduct the hero. She rushes to a police station to summon three detectives, and all rush after the bad guys. They begin to haul their quarry up the side of a steep cliff, casting stones from above to discourage the would-be rescuers, who find shelter under a stone protruding from the cliff wall. Once up top, the Viper and his crew plan to dispose of their victim by placing him in an empty house and setting it ablaze. But he gets loose inside the house, and the struggle continues up on the roof as the building begins to burn.

Even for 1908 standards, this is an extremely bad film; while the settings are all exteriors and are interesting in themselves, there are so many ways in which the film could also be interesting, and it is not so. Practically everything is in long shot, and action is so poorly plotted that often you cannot tell how many players are in a scene; not so good when your're only working with a cast of eight. Since there are three detectives, why couldn't they have spared one to go around to the other side of the bluff and meet the bad guys at the top? Why did the bad guys send away their wagon? Likewise, they could've taken it up the other side to the house and saved themselves a lot of misery. The detectives and lady friend do make it to the top within seconds of the villains, so why are they absent from all of the action which follows? The elder Wallace McCutcheon was a specialist at making chase films, and perhaps this was something he'd had on the drawing board when he took ill. Gene Gauntier and actress Kate Bruce have left reliable testimony as to just how incompetent "Wally" McCutcheon was as director. "The Black Viper" is yet another testimony to his un- talent; in this case, D.W. Griffith was just along for the ride.
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Hitting the Ground Running
boblipton9 July 2014
Griffith needed a job. American Biograph needed a director, since theirs was leaving. Griffith took the job on the understanding that if it didn't work out, there would be no hard feelings. He would still get work as an actor. So for a month or two he co-directed films with Wallace MacCutcheon Jr., who taught him everything he knew; thereupon Griffith bullied the entire industry into doing things his way.

In this one we can see the errors of the old style: huge acting, boring, unmoving compositions and primitive editing. The chase that takes up more than half of this one-reel drama might have been lifted from 1904's "How a French Nobleman Got a Wife Through the 'New York Herald' Personal Columns".

Despite this, there is a seed of things to come; Mack Sennett is on hand, as is Edward Dillon and a couple of other members of what would become Griffith's staff of actors and directors. Bitzer and Marvin are handling the cameras. Finally, there is the dramatic race to rescue the victim from the hands of the dastardly villain. It would become the core of Griffith's storytelling.

Here, though, it's badly handled. Well, it was only Griffith's fourth film and his first month.
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The Writer who can Act Reluctantly
Single-Black-Male31 December 2003
Having styled himself as a writer who can act, reluctantly, the 33 year old D.W. Griffith was given the opportunity to direct his own films. It was a gamble. He was married to Linda Arvidson and needed a secure income to pay for rent and food. After 'The Adventures of Dollie', he proved that he could be a lucrative investment.
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