Hollywood is still a sleepy California backwater of orange groves about to be transformed by filmmakers from the East Coast in search of sunny locations and wide open spaces. During this explosive early period, one of Hollywood's most influential and controversial directors was D.W. Griffith. Within the space of a few short years, he went from making short 'cliffhangers' to three-hour epics as Hollywood cinema became a worldwide entertainment medium. Paul Merton retrieves cinema's founding DNA and explores Griffith's career and the beginnings of the star system, which created screen idols like Mary Pickford, star of many of Griffith's movies.
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