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The Transformation of Mike (1912)

Mike breaks into an apartment to steal an old man's money, not realizing it's his girlfriend's father. When he discovers whose apartment it is, he begs her for forgiveness.


D.W. Griffith


Wilfred Lucas


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Credited cast:
Wilfred Lucas ... Mike
Blanche Sweet ... The Tenement Girl
Edna Foster ... The Tenement Girl's Brother
William J. Butler William J. Butler ... The Tenement Father
Kate Bruce ... The Neighbor
Christy Cabanne ... The Hallway Masher (as W. Christy Cabanne)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Max Davidson ... Landlord
John T. Dillon John T. Dillon ... A Policeman / At Dance
Frank Evans Frank Evans ... A Policeman
Robert Harron ... At Dance
Grace Henderson Grace Henderson ... At Dance
J. Jiquel Lanoe J. Jiquel Lanoe ... In Bar / At Dance
Joseph McDermott Joseph McDermott ... In Bar / At Dance
Gus Pixley ... At Dance
W.C. Robinson W.C. Robinson ... In Bar / At Dance


Mike, a gang leader, never before knew what power there was in a good woman's persuasion, and when he met the little girl of the tenement he involuntarily exclaimed, "There's a real girl." At a dance given in the neighborhood, he hunts for her and despite the efforts of her friends to oppose it, she promises to be his girl. The next day, while in the corner saloon, he sees a bill collector with quite an amount of money. He attempts to get this money and is about to succeed when he discovers that the collector is the father of the girl. He now fully realizes how despicable he is, and handing back the money, he goes with a promise to prove himself worthy of her. Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Short | Drama







Release Date:

1 February 1912 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Biograph Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


A print of this film survives in the UCLA Film and Television Archives. See more »

Alternate Versions

One version of this is shown the way the negative was developed (no editing betwwen the scenes). Another version has the editing restored. However, since the edited version was lost, the editing was done according to numbers that Griffith placed on the side of the film negative. These numbers are visible in the unedited version of the film. (both are of the same length and contain the same material, just in different order) Since the inner titles were also lost, the latest version of the film has beginnig titles added to give history to the film and introduce the editing problems/issues. See more »


Referenced in Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

"Collecting debts in the slums"
2 July 2008 | by Steffi_PSee all my reviews

DW Griffith's best known gangster picture, in fact the film that some say established the genre, was the renowned Musketeers of Pig Alley. However The Transformation of Mike, made a few months earlier, is a very worthy predecessor.

Like The Sunbeam, which appeared around the same time, Transformation of Mike sees Griffith working on a small canvas, with a handful of indoor sets arranged as if we are looking into a doll's house. Also as in The Sunbeam, he uses this arrangement to develop the intimacy and romance of the story. At the beginning, his crosscutting back and forth between Wilfred Lucas and Blanche Sweet implies a kind of inevitability in their eventually meeting. Later in the neighbourhood dance scene, he contrasts between two camera set-ups which are apparently supposed to be different ends of the same room. However one shows a crowded dance floor, the other a secluded table – two very different spaces. When Sweet walks away from Lucas, back to the dance floor, his standing alone among the empty tables reflects his feeling of abandonment.

There are very few intertitles here – just a small scattering to set each scene. The actors work exceptionally well at conveying feelings and intentions entirely through body language and facial expression. This may well be Wilfred Lucas' best performance, making the most of his brief period as Biograph's main male lead. Blanche Sweet had been an extra at Biograph since 1909, but here she is just starting to emerge as a leading lady despite still being very young.

This is a rarely seen Griffith short, only recently having become available on Youtube, and not featuring on any DVD compilation. It's not at all bad though, and shows the development of the gangster film as well as Griffith's handling of romantic drama.

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