The Man Who Couldn't Beat God (1915)

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Synopsis by Hal Erickson

Star Maurice Costello also collaborated on the direction of the five-reel Vitagraph production The Man Who Couldn't Beat God. Set in England and the U.S., the film details the misadventures of Martin Henchford (Costello), who after accidentally murdering his employer escapes to America to start life anew. Finding work as a "sand hog," Henchford rapidly rises up the professional ladder, becoming the president of a construction firm and marrying his partner's daughter. On the verge of entering politics as a gubernatorial candidate, Henchford finds he cannot escape the spectre of the man he killed back in England. His attack of conscience deepens into delirium and depression, culminating in Henchford's suicide -- proving once and for all that no man, however clever or resourceful, can "beat God." This otherwise relentlessly grim film was highlighted by a brief scene wherein the hero attends a theatrical performance of Oliver Twist -- and is driven to distraction by the on-stage "murder" of Nancy Sykes.