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The Scarlet Letter (1926 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter 1926 lobby card.jpg
Lobby card
Directed byVictor Seastrom
Written byFrances Marion
Based onThe Scarlet Letter
1850 novel
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Produced byVictor Seastrom
StarringLillian Gish
Lars Hanson
CinematographyHendrik Sartov [fr]
Edited byHugh Wynn
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • August 9, 1926 (1926-08-09)
Running time
115 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Scarlet Letter is a 1926 American drama film based on the 1850 novel of the same name by Nathaniel Hawthorne and directed by Swedish filmmaker Victor Sjöström (credited as Victor Seastrom).[1] Prints of the film survive in the MGM/United Artists film archives and the UCLA Film and Television Archive.[2] The film is now considered the best film adaptation of Hawthorne's novel.[3]



“Early in the film Gish, as Prynne, loses her bonnet chasing a songbird through a summer glade. When the wind catches her waist-long tresses, Gish appears for an instant as if she had stepped into a painting by  Botticelli...Seastrom seizes on Gish’s sensuality throughout the film...bringing this largely faithful adaptation down squarely on the side of love and ardent sensuality.”— Film critic Paul Malcolm[4]

The film was the second one Gish made under her contract with M-G-M and a departure from the ingénue roles she had performed in service to director D.W. Griffith. (her first M-G-M picture was directed by King Vidor, an adaption of La bohème with co-star John Gilbert in which she played the pathetic consumptive, Mimi.)[5] She asked production manager Louis B. Mayer specifically to make The Scarlet Letter and he reluctantly agreed, due to M-G-M’s concern that censors would object to a frank depiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne's character, Hester Prynne, whose romantic indiscretions unleash a wave of reactionary bigotry. Director Seastrom disabused these expectations with an opening intertitle "establishing Prynne's [Gish's] ordeal as 'a story of bigotry uncurbed.'"[6]

Shooting took under two months. The production cost a total of $417,000 when factoring out $48,000 overhead costs.[7]


The film made a profit of $296,000.[8]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

See also


  1. ^ "AllMovie's review of The Scarlet Letter (1926)".
  2. ^ "Progressive Silent Film List: The Scarlet Letter". Silent Era. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
  3. ^ Miller, Frank (November 25, 2002). "The Scarlet Letter (1926)". Turner Classic Movies. Turner Classic Movies, Inc. Retrieved September 21, 2021.
  4. ^ Malcolm, 2004
  5. ^ Durgnat and Simmons, 1988: p. 75-76: In both films Gish plays "the self-sacrificial lover..."
  6. ^ Malcolm, 2004: “Gish was the project’s prime mover as she sought more mature roles after playing ingenues for D. W. Griffith.” And: “...Gish’s wholesome reputation [established under her D.W. Griffith films] put censorship groups at ease [anticipating] a most chaste Hester Prynne.” expected from Gish. And: An opening intertitle reads "a story of bigotry uncurbed."
  7. ^ Slide, Anthony. "Those Elusive Budget Figures". Silent Topics: Essays on Undocumented Areas of Silent Film. Scarecrow Press, 2005, p. 25.
  8. ^ Scott Eyman, Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer, Robson, 2005 p 125
  9. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  10. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved August 19, 2016.


  • Durgnat, Raymond and Simmon, Scott. 1988. King Vidor, American. University of California Press, Berkeley. ISBN 0-520-05798-8
  • Malcolm, Paul. 2004. The Scarlet Letter, 1926. UCLA Film and Television Archive: 12th Festival of Preservation, July 22-August 21, 2004. Guest festival guide.

External links

This page was last edited on 30 October 2021, at 19:13
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