starring Carol Dempster and Ricardo Cortez
January, 1927

To those of us who have placed the genius of D.W. Griffith in the cinematic temple of fame, his "Sorrows of Satan" is greater grief than the devil ever knew. But let it be said in extenuation that, like any picture of his, and especially an ambitious one, it has moments of beauty and inspiration. These, however, are not found in the drama as set forth on the screen, but in grouping, lighting - pictorial effects. And in any picture it is drama - call it human interest, if you like - that counts.

Satan, in the person of Adolphe Menjou, appears to Geoffrey Tempest, a poor author, in his hour of extremity, and bargains for his soul in the manner of Mephistopheles in "Faust." The youth yields to Satan's blandishments and enters upon a career of orgies which the screen knows so well how to make spectacular, if not realistic. Geoffrey forgets his humble little sweetheart, and, prompted by Satan, marries Princess Olga, who is merely a puppet in Satan's hands, because she loves him. Out of this strangely unreal and unconvincing spectacle comes, somehow, a happy ending in so far as Geoffrey and his deserted sweetheart are brought together again in perfect understanding.

Preceding the story is an allegorical sequence depicting the expulsion of Lucifer from heaven, and his descent upon earth where he becomes the suave Menjou in silk hat and cape. As a technical tour de force the allegory is a triumph for the camera and the laboratory.

There seems to me all too little opportunity for notable acting on the part of any of the principals, but Ricardo Cortez, as the young author, makes the most of his. Carol Dempster and Lya de Putti are but figurines, one the distraught sweetheart and the other the flamboyant Princess Olga. They have considerable to do, but their roles lack definition and sharpness. This condition probably was brought about by changes made in the story and characterizations when the picture was filmed.

Starring Carol Dempster and Ricardo Cortez
December, 1926

Since the medieval religious drama, Satan has been presented as a tempter walking the earth with mortals. The fallen Lucifer runs through drama and literature. Marie Corelli's "Sorrows of Satan," a shocker thirty years ago, is an echo of the legend. The poor Geoffrey Tempest, loving Mavis Claire, sells his soul to Satan. In the end he returns to Mavis, whose faith in God drives the devil back to the lower regions. D.W. Griffith's production seems a little old-fashioned. It drags through Satan's orgies, because Lya de Putti gives very inferior assistance to the devil. Griffith is at his best in the early love scenes.

Ricardo Cortez contributes the performance of the picture, a fine bit of work, and both Carol Dempster and Adolphe Menjou are excellent.

Starring Carol Dempster and Ricardo Cortez
January, 1927

Frankly, we were disappointed in "The Sorrows of Satan." And in spite of the fact that years ago we relished this Marie Corelli story of lovers parted by an Evil Influence, we feel that the production's lack lies in the story alone.

You may recollect the plot of two humble writers who live only for each other until the boy is tempted to desert his humble sweetheart for pagan orgies, Mr. Satan acting as his guide.

Griffith has given this story a sympathetic and beautiful interpretation and has modified the wholesale measure of sentimentality which he usually dispenses. And we wish to give particular credit to either D.W. or his artist of a cameraman for the interesting shadow effect which is used in symbolizing Adolphe Menjou in meticulous evening dress as the incarnation of Mr. Satan.

Mr. Menjou's performance, in our opinion, is a little too restrained. Now and then a theatrical gesture or gleam of an eye might have let his audience in on his delight when he achieved his particular end. After all, some things just are theatric . . .despite the modern school of acting . . . and Satan abroad in evening dress is one of them.

But in the case of Lya de Putti, we recommend a little restraint . She flaunts the old s.a. too obviously to continue interesting.

Ricardo Cortez as the wandering sweetheart gives a convincing performance.

But it is for Carol Dempster that we save our best adjectives. And for Griffith, too. He has made of Miss Dempster a splendid actress . . . an artist.

In a nutshell, we think "The Sorrows of Satan" an out-of-date story, beautifully produced and holding moments of inspired acting. But, for the future, we suggest that Mr. Griffith be given simpler stories about people who do not revel in Bacchanalian orgies.

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