The Golden Louis

The Golden Louis is a 1909 American drama film written by Edward Acker, directed by D. W. Griffith, and produced by the Biograph Company in New York City. Originally, this short was distributed to theaters on a "split reel", accompanying another Griffith-directed film, the comedy The Politician's Love Story.


On a snowy holiday evening, an old woman sends a small girl begging for money along the streets of late 17th-century "old Paris". Well-dressed revelers and others passing by the child ignore her pleas for charity. Exhausted and cold, the little beggar lies down on some stone steps next to the sidewalk and falls asleep. Soon, one gentleman walking by takes pity on her, although he does not wake the girl. He simply places a coin, a gold "Louis d'or", into one of her wooden shoes, which has come off her foot and sits on the snow-covered pavement next to her. Elsewhere, inside a nearby gambling hall, one of the revelers has run out of cash playing "roulettes". Confident that he can win a fortune playing the game if he only had more money, he goes outside to find more funds. There he sees the girl asleep on the steps. He also spies the gold Louis in her shoe. Reluctant at first to take the coin, the young man "borrows" it, for he is certain he can win a fortune for himself and her at roulette. While he returns to the gambling hall and resumes playing, the child awakes and renews her wandering and begging along the streets. The gambler wins his expected fortune and now goes back to share his success with the girl. During his search for her, the weak, half-frozen little beggar returns to the steps and lies down once more. The gambler eventually finds her. She appears to be sleeping again, but he quickly realizes that the child is dead. Devastated, the gambler cries, rages at a crowd of onlookers, and then throws his roulette winnings into the snow. He then picks up the small lifeless body, cradles it in his arms, and continues sobbing.