Karl Dane - "The Scarlet Letter"
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The Scarlet Letter (1926)

"The Scarlet Letter" was a big-budget MGM feature starring Lillian Gish, Lars Hanson, and Henry B. Walthall (who was Lillian Gish's love interest, "The Little Colonel" back in 1915 in the Griffith epic, "The Birth of a Nation.")Lillian had to fight to get the film made at all, since Hawthorne's classic was actually on the blacklist at the time. This was the second film that Karl made with Lillian--the other was "La Boheme" that same year.
Karl is Giles, the Boston Colony's well-respected barber-surgeon. He is also the only one in the repressive town who befriends the lovely but free-spirited Hester Prynne. Here, Giles reacts with deep empathy as he watches Hester being harshly reprimanded for "running and skipping on the Lord's Day."
Giles, in front of his shop with his hapless apprentice, watch with approval as Hester is finally released from the stocks by the Reverend Dimmesdale (Hanson).
Giles courts his sweetheart (Marcelle Corday) according to the strict Puritan tradition: conversing through long "speaking tubes" and almost certainly no touching or kissing before the ceremony!
This is all too much for the hot-blooded Giles, and he impulsively steals a kiss, much to the horror of his uptight fiancee. The engagement is immediately broken.
Meanwhile, Hester has a child out of wedlock with the Reverend Dimmesdale, and is publicly shamed infront of the entire village, being forced to wear the scarlet "A" (for adulteress) of the film's title. Giles watches the spectacle with disgust, right behind the hated Mistress Hibbens, whose cruel and gossippy ways continually keep Hester in trouble.
Hester's long-lost husband, the sinister Roger Chillingworth (Walthall) returns after being held prisoner by an Indian tribe. Here Giles is interpreting for one of the tribal representatives (Chief Yowlatchie)in the towm Meeting House.
He is interrupted by an almost hysterical Hester (Gish), whose daughter Pearl is seriously ill and needs his medical expertise.
Giles finally decides to put the catty Mistress Hibbens in her place. He sneaks into her house as she dozes, dons her bonnet and shawl, and says unflattering things about the Governor and Beadle, within earshot of these two men, who are suitably outraged. Mistress Hibbens is then ducked the very next day, to the delight of the town (and especially Giles!)
As Hester cradles the dying Reverend, who has just confessed to fathering her child, Giles and his fiancee (Corday) are finally reunited.
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Last modified: February 25, 2007