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AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Lillian Gish (1984)

The American Film Institute Salute to Lillian Gish (original title)
A tribute to actress Lillian Gish, a pioneer in American cinema whose long and distinguished career began in the early silent era.
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lillian Gish ... Herself - Guest of Honor
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. ... Himself - Host
Sally Field ... Herself
John Houseman ... Himself
John Huston ... Himself
Jennifer Jones ... Herself
Mary Martin ... Herself
Robert Mitchum ... Himself
Colleen Moore ... Herself
Jeanne Moreau ... Herself
Eva Marie Saint ... Herself
Mary Steenburgen ... Herself
Richard Thomas ... Himself
Lily Tomlin ... Herself
Richard Widmark ... Himself


A tribute to actress Lillian Gish, a pioneer in American cinema whose long and distinguished career began in the early silent era.

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Release Date:

17 April 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The AFI Salute to Lillian Gish See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Sound Mix:

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Did You Know?


The Salute took place on 1 March 1984. See more »

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User Reviews

3 April 2003 | by m0rphySee all my reviews

I must admit to an ulterior motive for buying this video.As I had collected all the 24 films of Jennifer Jones (JJ), 25 if you include the two versions of "The Wild Heart"/"Gone To Earth", or 26 if you include her 2001 A&E biography tape); I wanted to see JJ at later date than 1974, when she did her last film, "The Towering Inferno".

The present video is dated 1984 and JJ gives a eulogy to her old friend Lillian Gish concerning the two films they did together.These were: "Duel In The Sun" (1946) when Lillian plays LauraBelle McCanless, the senator's wife who is kindly disposed to Pearl Chavez and "Portrait Of Jennie (1948) when she played a convincing mother superior at the convent where Jennie Appleton studied .Lillian had to make the grade, (not achieved by many silent actors), of allaying the necessary melodramatic facial and bodily gestures needed for "silents" and learn to adopt the more naturalistic approach particulary the necessary vocal skills which were required from 1927 when "talkies" first came into cinemas.However her death scene in "Duel" has been criticised as being laughably melodramatic by other reviewers.

Lillian appeared in D.W. Griffiths seminal "Birth Of A Nation" (1915) and there are copious clips from various silent productions in which Lillian appeared, well hosted by Douglas Fairbanks Jnr with a galaxy of stars.Colleen Moore plays a major role in the euologies and tributes were spoken by Bob Mitchum, Richard Widmark, Jeanne Moreau and in the audience I noticed Fred Astaire and Cary Grant.I have looked in vain for a later and similar tribute to Gregory Peck from 1989 where JJ gave a similar eulogy, and I think there should be other similar tribute videos available.

In her long career, Lillian played many different parts and like JJ did not seem type cast.If you would like to see a pot-pourri of Lillian Gish's different roles as a prelude to perhaps buying one of her films on video, this is a good introduction.

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