THE SCARLET LETTER (1926) B/W "silent" 80m dir: Victor Sjostrom

w/Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson, Karl Dane, Henry B. Walthall, William H. Tooker, Marcello Corday, Fred Herzog, Jules Cowles

An intelligent rendering of the Nathaniel Hawthorne classic set in 17th century New England. Hester Prynne wears the mark of the adulteress, the scarlet letter "A" on her left breast, rather than reveal the identity of the man who impregnated her. The film is atmospheric and moving, with exemplary performances and direction making this the best of several versions of this tale (including, of course, the most recent one starring Demi Moore, which did not even retain the original ending of the story).

From Georges Sadoul's Dictionary of Films : "Leon Moussinac described this as 'a film that stigmatizes the vicious, odious puritanism rampant in New England and that still exists in small communities in America and elsewhere.' The passions and suffering of the couple and their terrible persecution as depicted in Hawthorne's beautiful novel (he himself was born in Salem in 1804) is superbly caught in Sjostrom's direction and in the remarkable performances of Lillian Gish and Lars Hanson. The sets and costumes (almost certainly by Cedric Gibbons, who joined MGM in 1924) are historically accurate but unimaginative. However, Hendrik Sartov's sensitive photography makes the most of them."