Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Though D.W. Griffith had given up his independent-filmmaker status by joining Paramount Pictures in 1926, he had lost none of his artistry, if this film is any indication. Based on a mystical novel by Marie Correlli, Adolphe Menjou stars as the elegant, sartorially splendid Prince Lucio de Rimanez--but you and I know that he's really the Prince of Darkness. When struggling writer Ricardo Cortez is moved to curse God for his misfortunes, Prince Lucio makes a sudden appearance, informing Cortez that he's inherited a fortune. The only proviso is that Cortez must place his fate entirely in the Prince's hands. As he ascends to the uppermost rungs of European society, Cortez is ordered by Lucio to marry Russian princess Lya DePutti, even though the writer still loves his pre-wealth sweetheart Carole Dempster. Eventually, Prince Lucio reveals his true satanic identity, but not before Lya has taken her own life. By rejecting the Devil and all his false promises, Cortez is permitted a happily-ever-after with Dempster. A tantalizing contemporary article describes how Sorrows of Satan was supposed to have opened with an impressive special-effects sequence, wherein we see Satan literally falling from grace; alas, this prologue was excised from the film and has been lost forever. If it is true that Griffith intensely disliked the Correlli novel upon which Sorrows of Satan was based, one would never know it from his masterful, sensitive direction. The film represented the final screen appearance of Griffith's protege (and reputed lover) Carole Dempster, who actually evinces some acting ability this time around.
deal-with-the-devil, Satan, boarding-house, curse, faith, love-conquers-all, marriage-arranged, society, sweetheart, wealth, writer, disguise, poverty, prince, fortune-hunter, bat [animal], suicide