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Few people might know about this, but there actually was a movie adaptation of Coleridge’s most famous poem, filmed in 1926, directed by Chester Bennett and Henry Otto, and starring Leslie Fenton and, notably, silent era icon Clara Bow.

You will hear little about this movie, though, as it is today considered “lost”, meaning that little or no footage has survived – which might say something about the movie’s reception in its day.

“Lost”, well, only to an extent. I will take it upon me and share whatever resource I can find on the movie here. Who knows, maybe I can collect enough information to even write a short article on it…? 🙂

So, let’s start with two fundamental things.

The movie poster, and the cast list!

Well… First, the movie poster appears lost, TOO.

There seems to remain only this, an approximation, by a custom-print seller at www.zazzle.com, taken from whatever source:

Coleridge 1

Thanks to IMDB, though, we have a list of the (main) people involved in the production of the movie.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0015573/

Directed by Chester Bennett and Henry Otto.
Assistant director – James Tingling.

Writing credits (in alphabetical order)
Chester Barnett
Tom Miranda – titles
Eve Unsell – screenplay
Eve Unsell – story
Samuel Taylor Coleridge – original poem
Cast (in alphabetical order)

Clara Bow – Doris
Gladys Brockwell – Life In Death
Nigel De Brulier – Skipper
Leslie Fenton – Joe Barlow
Robert Klein – Death
Paul Panzer – Mariner
Earle Williams – Victor Brandt
Cinematography – Joseph H. August

More later, of course, but so far, a first summary by movie historian Hal Erickson, via the New York Times:

Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem {-The Rime of the Ancient Mariner} had no love interest. The 1925 movie adaptation, titled simply The Ancient Mariner, stars Clara Bow, indicating that scenarist Eve Unsell did an extensive rewrite. Bow is in love with wastrelly Earle Williams, who is shanghaied by ship’s captain Nigel De Brulier. The girl wises up when Williams proves to be a jerk on the high seas; she settles instead for hometown boy Leslie Fenton. The Coleridge poem is dramatized in the form of a dream, experienced by Williams while he’s under the influence of De Brulier‘s knockout drops.

This summary doesn’t sound all too promising to me, especially as the surviving photos of the movie suggest that we’re not dealing with a Murnau-ish phantasmagoria here, but with a simple Romantic comedy – set in the filmmakers’ present days, no less.

Still, let’s see what I can dig out over the upcoming weeks…

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