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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Elmer Clifton
Clifton in 1917
Elmer Clifton Forsyth

(1890-03-14)March 14, 1890
DiedOctober 15, 1949(1949-10-15) (aged 59)
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter, actor
Years active1912–1949
Helen Kiely
(m. 1926)

Elmer Clifton Forsyth (March 14, 1890 – October 15, 1949) was an American director, screenwriter, and actor from the early silent days.

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  • Isle of Destiny (1940) | Adventure | William Gargan, Wallace Ford, June Lang | Elmer Clifton
  • City of Missing Girls (1941) | Mystery Thriller | H.B. Warner, Astrid Allwyn, John Archer
  • Remember Him This Is Why He's No Longer an Actor


Early life

Elmer Clifton Forsyth was born in Toronto, Canada, to Cecil Carl Forsyth and Margaret Nicolle.[citation needed]


A collaborator of D.W. Griffith, Clifton appeared in The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916) before giving up acting in 1917 to concentrate on work behind the camera, with Griffith and Joseph Henabery as his mentors. His first feature-length solo effort as a director was The Flame of Youth with Jack Mulhall.[citation needed]

Clifton honed his talents during the late 1910s, directing vehicles for Mulhall and Herbert Rawlinson at Universal and then for Dorothy Gish for Famous Players–Lasky. Two of his projects with Gish, Nobody Home and Nugget Nell, featured performances from pre-stardom Rudolph Valentino. Most of this early output has been lost.[1] He was the first filmmaker to discover the talents of Clara Bow, whom he cast in Down to the Sea in Ships, released on March 4, 1923.[2] The independently produced film was well reviewed for its visual authenticity.[citation needed]

During the 1920s, Clifton directed films for several different studios. During the filming of The Warrens of Virginia (1924) for Fox Film Corporation, lead actress Martha Mansfield suffered a fatal accident from burns when her costume caught fire. Clifton directed The Wreck of the Hesperus (1927) for Cecil B. deMille's production company, and filmed on location in the Grand Canyon for The Bride of the Colorado. He also directed some Technicolor short films, including Manchu Love with an all-Asian cast.[3]

He directed serials for Weiss Bros., Columbia, and Republic. His handling of the successful Columbia serial The Secret of Treasure Island (1938) earned him feature assignments at Columbia. During the 1940s Clifton was a staff director for PRC, working on action features and westerns. Like other silent-era veterans, he also worked in the low-budget "exploitation" field, directing Gambling with Souls (1936), Assassin of Youth (1937), Slaves in Bondage (1937), City of Missing Girls (1941), and Youth Aflame (1944). Clifton sometimes used the alias "Elmer S. Pond".

Clifton experienced a cerebral thrombosis three days into filming Not Wanted (1949), and was unable to work anymore.[4] Producer Ida Lupino took over the direction and completed the film without screen credit.[citation needed]

Clifton died in 1949 of a cerebral hemorrhage shortly after the film's release. Two of his 1949 productions, both inexpensive westerns produced by Raymond Friedgen, were released posthumously.[citation needed]

Personal life

Clifton married actress Helen Kiely on November 29, 1926. The couple had three children: Actress Dorinda Clifton, a daughter named Patricia, and a son named Michael.[citation needed]

Selected filmography

Partial filmography

Year Title
1917 High Speed
Flirting with Death
The Flame of Youth
The High Sign
The Man Trap
Her Official Fathers
The Midnight Man
A Stormy Knight
1918 Hearts of the World
Battling Jane
Brace Up
The Guilt of Silence
The Eagle
The Flash of Fate
Kiss or Kill
The Two-Soul Woman
Smashing Through
Winner Takes All
1919 Peppy Polly
I'll Get Him Yet
Nugget Nell
1922 Down to the Sea in Ships
1923 Six Cylinder Love
1926 Wives at Auction
1926 The Virgin Wife
1926 The Truth About Men
1928 Tropical Nights
1928 Beautiful But Dumb
1929 The Devil's Apple Tree
1935 Pals of the Range
Cyclone of the Saddle
Rip Roaring Riley
1938 Paroled from the Big House
The Secret of Treasure Island (serial)
1939 Crashing Thru
1941 I'll Sell My Life
1943 Days of Old Cheyenne
1944 Seven Doors to Death
Captain America (serial)
1946 Swing, Cowboy, Swing
1949 Not Wanted
1949 The Judge
1949 Red Rock Outlaw
1950 The Silver Bandit


Year Title Role Notes
1912 An Assisted Elopement Young Tom Richmond
1914 John Barleycorn Jack, 3rd period
Martin Eden Cub reporter
Burning Daylight: The Adventures of 'Burning Daylight' in Alaska Charley Bates
1915 The Birth of a Nation Phil – Stoneman's Elder Son
Strathmore Marc
The Fox Woman Marashida
The Lily and the Rose Allison Edwards
The Sable Lorcha Clyde
1916 The Missing Links Horace Gaylord
Acquitted Ned Fowler
The Little School Ma'am Wilbur Howard
Intolerance The Rhapsode
The Old Folks at Home Steve Coburn
1917 Nina, the Flower Girl Jimmie
1919 The Fall of Babylon The Rhapsode (final film role)


  1. ^ Golden, Eve; Golden Images: 41 Essays on Silent Film Stars; Jefferson: McFarland & Co; p 40. Web August 17, 2012
  2. ^ "Real life story of Clara Bow", in sixteen parts, by Louella Parsons, published by San Antonio light, May 15 – June 4, 1931
  3. ^ Slide, Anthony; Silent Topics: Essays On Undocumented Areas Of Silent Film; Scarecrow Press; p. 37; Web August 17, 2012
  4. ^ "Movie of the Week: "Outrage"". The New Yorker. October 9, 2014.

External links

This page was last edited on 13 April 2024, at 21:35
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