a cute boy usher leads Mae Marsh in a large hat down a theater aisle. walking behind her is an actor playing her husband. he has a stiff collar & stern look. she takes her seat while he accepts a program from the boy. he sits beside her. they exchange words. & the quick scene is over.
the actor is Walter Miller (1892-1940). the film is D. W. Griffith's "Brutality" (1912). I encounterd the clip in a bit of Bill Morrison's documentary on the astonishing discovery of a cache of silent films buried for years in a swimming pool.
the whole experience is only seconds long. but as I first saw it that man spoke to me. over the decades his being made contact. & it was so powerful I was undone for a spell. I playd the clip again & again. then I lookd him up. after a career as a leading man in silents he became a villain in Poverty Row serials. his later self looks a bit bloatd & not as mysterious as those seconds of him as a beauty. I see him sitting with his precise attire & head cockd. he doesn't appear to be acting. he is simply being. & it's strong & disquieting. I want to know more abt him. I want him to lean toward me & whisper his secrets. walk down the aisle Walter Miller. sit beside me Walter Miller. talk to me Walter Miller. I will continue my day. I will eat some of this & drink some of that. I will look at art on walls & words on page. I may talk to myself. & I may talk to Walter Miller who died before I was born. I don't know how long he will stay in my life. maybe just this week. maybe forever. he isn't the first mysterious man to unnerve me & hopefully won't be the last. but how thrilling on a simple sunday to have such a man walk into yr life & for just moments upset it.