Manslaughter (1922)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Release Date - Sep 24, 1922 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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This Cecil B. DeMille morality play came at just the right time -- the Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle scandal and William Desmond Taylor murder were both still fresh in the public's mind. Leatrice Joy plays Lydia Thorne, a rich society girl who is addicted to thrills. Because of her reckless driving, she is responsible for the death of a motorcycle cop and is brought to trial. The prosecutor is none other than her fiancé, Daniel O'Bannon (Thomas Meighan). Feeling that prison is her only means of mending her ways, he guarantees her conviction by making a speech in which he depicts the decadence and downfall of Rome (this gave DeMille the opportunity for one of his historical fantasy sequences). After Lydia is found guilty, the miserable O'Bannon becomes an alcoholic, but Lydia does learn from the experience and when she is released she searches out O'Bannon. Her new outlook on life brings him around, and they are together once again. This film is, perhaps, the epitome of the DeMille formula of the '20s -- as long as the characters paid for their sins by the last reel, DeMille could show all the debauchery he wanted. This pleased both the Hayes office's need for censorship and filmgoers' hunger for sensation.

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Keywords

addiction, alcoholism, conviction, death, decadence, driver, guilt, love-conquers-all, police, prosecutor, socialite, trial [courtroom]