MANSLAUGHTER
starring Thomas Meighan, Leatrice Joy and Lois Wilson
MOTION PICTURE CLASSIC
December, 1922

Cecil B. De Mille has declared himself another holiday. This director has his happiest moments when he stages a riotous scene. Here he goes back to the erring Caesars to depict Rome falling thru love for lust - his idea being to show a comparison with the modern era when "excitement eaters" are bringing madness to the world in their search for pep and pleasure. If he had arranged Alice Duer Miller's story, "Manslaughter," to follow the original, he would have hit all six cylinders.

Yet is must be called a compelling picture, if for no other reason than that it moves directly to its climax - revealing an exceptionally fine sample of straight-forward story-telling - a reminder of the old Biograph days.

The pampered heroine gets behind Satan and prison walls and the scenes building to the climax are unusually gripping. Take particular notice of the incident when the motorcycle officer is catapulted thru space when his machine strikes the girl's sporty roadster. It is unusually clever direction. The silly flapper is convicted of manslaughter by the prosecuting attorney - the very man to whom she is engaged. This is dynamic, if false in the sense that we cannot imagine any true lover sending his sweetheart to jail to cure her.

The theatrical note creeps in with a vengeance, for the holier-than-thou hero takes to alcohol and sinks to the gutter and stays there until the thoroughly redeemed girl emerges from prison and rescues him. Her reformation is convincing; his is not. In fact, he proves to be the weaker character of the two.

De Mille has used the entire Lasky equipment, studio, sets, costumes and extras, besides having a large and competent cast, to give breadth to the story. It will cause some discussion - this picture. It will be talked about. There is no denying that it contains a healthy punch - even tho that punch is aimed here and there at your intelligence.

Leatrice Joy indicates in her portrayal of the jazz-mad girl that stardom will soon be her reward. It is a conspicuously fine performance - one endowed with emotional feeling and capricious impulse. Thomas Meighan is as convincing as his role permits him. At least he tried and nearly succeeded in making the character a regular fellow.


Video source: Kavel

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