The Sorrows of Satan (1926)

Article #889 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-21-2003
Posting Date: 1-18-2004
Directed by D. W. Griffith
Featuring Ricardo Cortez, Adolphe Menjou, Carol Dempster

A down-and-out writer deserts his girlfriend when he comes by great wealth through his association with a suspicious man.

D. W. Griffith was one of the great pioneers of cinema, and his impact on the history of movies can not be overstated. However, by the time he made this movie, his style had become quaint and old-fashioned, and he had lost his independence as a filmmaker. This movie was an enormous flop, and it ended his career with Paramount. It’s easy to see why it failed; this update of the Faust story is obvious, overlong and predictable, and the first half of the movie is about as lively and fast-moving as a funeral march. Things pick up somewhat in the second half, but it’s a bit of slog until then. On the plus side, Adolphe Menjou is well cast as Prince Lucio, and you should have no trouble figuring out who he is. The script also gives the character some odd and interesting characteristics; since every person who resists him will win him an hour at the gates of paradise, he is in the bizarre position of having to hope for failure in his temptations. Nonetheless, these touches come in fairly late in the proceedings. In short, the next time I want to see a Faust tale made in the twenties, I’ll probably opt for the Murnau version.


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