No flashing lights, in Black and White, and more captivating than any award-winning garbage heap of today.
Gish and Mitchum are amazing.
Charles Laughton was so criticized for this film that he was shaken up enough to never make another. That's too bad.
Some interesting things: Laughton hated directing children, so Mitchum directed the boy and girl in the film. They were great.
It is based on a true story but the ending was changed.
A traveling preacher who was murdering widows. It was in the paper but the true ending was that a woman with a boy, a girl, and a baby were all killed.
In the film, John and Pearl and her doll full of money are not killed--that ending dreamy sequence with Gish is all fantasy, but with a purpose in story-telling.
That's what film can't do today that it did then: tell a story.
If you aren't painting a picture and telling a story, you don't have a film.
A couple more great ones similar are 'Our Town' and 'I Remember Mama' although they are very different films. The similarity is in capturing a time-period and telling a story without 'bling'.