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The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter
Actors: Colleen Moore, Hardie Albright, Henry Walthall
Director: Unkn
Genres: Drama
2004     1hr 10min

Classic B&W Silent film star Colleen Moore plays Hester Prynne, who is condemned by the people of her 17th century village to wear a scarlet letter "A" as lifetime punishment for bearing a child out of wedlock. The sound...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Colleen Moore, Hardie Albright, Henry Walthall
Director: Unkn
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Drama
Studio: Digiview
Format: DVD
DVD Release Date: 04/04/2004
Theatrical Release Date: 00/00/1934
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 10min
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 14
Members Wishing: 0

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Movie Reviews

Wrong film
F. P. Horne | London | 01/07/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)

"The film on the disc in the box is NOT as the box claims Victor Sjostrom's wonderful silent version of The Scarlet Letter, which I have seen, but the very poor sound version from the 1930s. I suggest that Amazon ceases to advertise it as the 1926 version."
Richard D. Papp | Nashville, TN | 12/19/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Buyer beware before ordering this! If you're a fan of Lillian Gish, D.W. Griffith and great films in professional high quality, you're getting none of the above with this scam, this absolute sham. Instead, you get the 1934 version with Colleen Moore. Why the seller doesn't present it as such (even the horrible packaging doesn't) is beyond me... I hope this product gets dropped immediately."
Hawthornes's Immortal Novel receives poverty row treatment
C. Turner | 01/09/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)

""The Scarlet Letter" (Majestic, 1934), directed by Robert G. Vignola, is the first sound screen adaptation to the immortal novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, set in 18th century Massachusetts, starring former silent movie comedienne Colleen Moore in what was to become her final screen appearance.

Filmed eight years after the silent MGM 1926 success that starred Lillian Gish and Lars Hanson, this sound adaptation differs from the earlier film in both continuity as well as production values. In the silent version, Hester Prynne (Gish), a seamstress whose husband is away at sea, meets the Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale (Hanson), who falls in love with her unaware that she is married. However, she becomes pregnant with his child and after the baby's birth, she keeps Dimmesdale's secret that he is the father in spite of the punishment she must face. In the sound version, set in 1642, the story starts off almost immediately in which the viewer finds Hester Prynne (Moore), already a mother, holding her infant daughter, Pearl, in her arms, standing in front of the congregation. She is on trial for having the child out of wedlock and because she refuses to name the father of her baby, for her humiliation and punishment she must wear the scarlet letter "A" over her bosom for the rest of her natural life. Henry B. Walthall, who plays Roger Prynne, Hester's middle-aged husband in both 1926 and 1934 versions, appears in the near beginning of the story while in the silent version, his character makes his appearance almost an hour from the start of the film. In the two versions, his character returns home from his long sea journey to find his young wife has beared forth a child that is obviously not his, thus, and to save face, decides to be known through the community as Doctor Roger Dillingwell. Hester, in turn keeps her husband's identity a secret, knowing that his avenge is to learn the father's identity. Moving forward to 1647, Hester's daughter, Pearl (Cora Sue Collins), now five, must face her own humiliation by being an outcast to the neighborhood children, who refuse to play with her, and being insulted by their mothers, unaware as to why she is being treated just as cruelly as her mother, who steps in on Pearl's behalf after one scene finding Pearl getting mud thrown at her by the other children. As for the Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale (Hardie Albright), he silently suffers for being worshiped by his congregation, unable to confess to all, through a promise he had made to Hester to keep silent, that he is the one responsible for Hester's guilt, and continues to suffer until the climax.

While "The Scarlet Letter" in 1926 was intelligently made and still holds up surprisingly well today, the 1934 adaptation might have equaled the earlier had it not been for its low production values and very slow pacing. Some of the dialog spoken has good intentions and meaning, but then sinks with some unnecessary comedy scenes (mostly by Alan Hale and William Kent) and poorly spoken dialog that unbalances the continuity to the story. At times I wonder what it would have been like had MGM itself remade "The Scarlet Letter" with Lillian Gish reprising her earlier role, with possibly Fredric March or Franchot Tone playing Dimmesdale. Would it have been a failure or would it have been in the class of MGM's other literary works of that period, which include the 1935 releases of "David Copperfield," "Anna Karenina" and "A Tale of Two Cities?"

Personally, after seeing "The Scarlet Letter" of 1934 several times, which is currently a public domain title available through numerous video sources, I find it's real fault is its slow pacing, and sometimes the performance of Hardie Albright, whose character plays weak, but fails to bring forth the strong points to his character. Aside from the actors mentioned, the movie includes screen veterans William Farnum, Virginia Howell and Jules Cowles (who can also be seen in the 1926 version). Film buffs will delight into watching this rarely seen find, which did enjoy some frequent revivals during the early years of Cable TV in the 1980s, but others will find themselves falling asleep long before the movie is over. But steer clear of the Demi Moore 1995 "free adaptation.". To learn more about the Hawthorne literary classic, just read the novel. (**)"
dautkomm | Toronto, ON | 01/12/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)

"This is NOT the 1926 Gish version as promoted on the DVD cover. Amazon would be advised to correct the 1926 label from their product title, as this is an inferior 1930s version. Buyer be warned!"