An Unseen Enemy (1912)

An Unseen Enemy (1912)

While film was becoming ever more popular by the 1910s, "flickers" were still seen as a simple and ordinary form of entertainment compared with the stage. Therefore, well-known and highly talented actors were reticent to make the transformation to the silver screen.

So, when Lillian Gish, who had made her name with her sister Dorothy on stage, decided to take the leap of faith to step in front of the camera, the move was not without its risks.

Her first film was An Unseen Enemy, directed by arguably the biggest director of the early silent era, D.W. Griffith. Lillian and sister Dorothy play recently orphaned girls. Their inheritance is locked away in the family's safe, but the housekeeper enlists an accomplice to try to steal it while holding the girls at gunpoint.

Lillian Gish would go on to star in a number of other Griffith films, including the highest grossing movie of the era, Birth of a Nation. In 1924, Vanity Fair described Gish as "the surest artist of her generation" in a piece titled A Critical Appreciation of the First Lady of the Cinema.

Gish's on-screen career continued for another 75 years, concluding at aged 93 in the 1987 film The Whales of August alongside another early cinema giant, Bette Davis.

You can watch An Unseen Enemy in full below: