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Lillian Gish and Richard Bartleness in Broken Blossoms.

Broken Blossoms is a 1919 dramatic silent film directed by D.W. Griffith and starring Richard Bartleness, Lillian Gish and Donald Crisp. It is based on the story The Chink and the Child by Richard Burke. The film was critically acclaimed upon its release on May 13.


Cheng Huan (Richard Bartleness) is an idealistic man from China that moves to London to predicate the words of Buddha. There he meets hostility until he meets Lucy (Lillian Gish), a beautiful and kind young girl that is abused by her alcoholic father, the boxer Battling Burrows (Donald Crisp). One night Burrows beats and throws Lucy out of home, and Cheng takes her to his home where he nurses her back to health and the two bond in friendship. However, when Burrows learns of his daughter's whereabouts he is enraged and drags her back to his house to punish her again, this time killing her. Cheng arrives too late to save Lucy and confronts Burrows, who tries to attack him with a hatchet, but Cheng shoots him first. Cheng returns home with Lucy's body, builds a shrine in her memory and kills himself with a knife.

In Boardwalk Empire[]

Pearl references Broken Blossoms when she is talking with Jimmy Darmody about moving together to California in February 1920, asking if he will defend her from her violent father. Jimmy misses the reference and replies that he didn't know he had to. Annoyed, Pearl explains the joke and he says that he will watch the film. ("Anastasia")