The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter

A FILM BY: Victor Sjöström
WRITTEN BY: Nathaniel Hawthorne (novel), Frances Marion (adaptation)
STARRING: Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson, Henry B. Walthall

Live accompaniment by Music Box house organist Dennis Scott | Co-presented by the Chicago Film Society

THE SCARLET LETTER is that rarest of things: a movie adapted from a great work of American literature that doesn't embarrass the source material. Indeed, this tale of adultery, hypocrisy, and mutilation purportedly reached the screen only because Lillian Gish's wholesome bona fides, not Nathaniel Hawthorne's literary reputation, assuaged church group skepticism. Gish stars as Hester Prynne, the Puritan woman whose affair with pastor Dimmesdale (Lars Hanson) brings an out-of-wedlock birth and the injunction that the adulterous wife be forced to wear a scarlet 'A' affixed to her dress. Discussing the choice to hire Victor Sjöström (The Wind) to direct this quintessentially American story, Gish explained, "The Swedish people are closer to what our Pilgrims were, or what we consider them to have been, than our present day Americans."

Print courtesy of UCLA Film & Television Archive

Technical Information

Production Year: 1926
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Run Time: 100 mins
Format: 35mm