The Man Without a Country (1917)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Americana, War Drama  |   Run Time - 66 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Produced by Thanhouser, this first full-length adaptation of Edward Everett Hale's classic story The Man Without a Country starred H.E. Herbert as the luckless Philip Nolan, though nominal heroine Florence LaBadie was contractually awarded top billing. Accused of treason because of his loyalty to renegade Aaron Burr, Nolan spitefully cries out "Damn the United States! I wish I could never hear of her again." In the spirit of letting the punishment fit the crime, Nolan is sentenced to spend the rest of his life on an American warship, with the sailors given explicit instructions never to mention the United States in his presence. During the next fifty-five years, the repentant Nolan becomes America's most loyal citizen, secretly charting the country's expansion and sewing new stars on the flag he has squirreled away in his quarters. As Nolan breathes his last, a mere hundred feet or so from American shores, it is resolved by one and all that "No man loved his country more, and no man deserved less at her hands." As was the case in most film versions of The Man Without a Country, a romantic subplot is woven into the proceedings; and in keeping with the tempo of the times (America had just entered WWI), the film was fitted out with a modern "framing story," wherein a young doughboy's patriotism is fired up by a reading of the original Hale novella.