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Manslaughter (1922)

TV-PG | | Drama | 24 September 1922 (USA)
Society-girl thrill seeker Lydia causes the death of motorcycle policeman and is prosecuted by her fiancé Daniel who describes in lurid detail the downfall of Rome. While she's in prison she reforms and Daniel becomes a wasted alcoholic.


Cecil B. DeMille


Jeanie Macpherson (adaptation), Alice Duer Miller (novel)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Leatrice Joy ... Lydia Thorne
Thomas Meighan ... Daniel J. O'Bannon
Lois Wilson ... Evans - Lydia's Maid
John Miltern John Miltern ... Gov. Stephan Albee
George Fawcett ... Judge Homans
Julia Faye ... Mrs. Drummond
Edythe Chapman ... Adeline Bennett
Jack Mower ... Drummond - Policeman
Dorothy Cumming ... Eleanor Bellington
Casson Ferguson ... Bobby Dorest
Michael D. Moore ... Dicky Evans (as Mickey Moore)
James Neill ... Butler
Sylvia Ashton Sylvia Ashton ... Prison Matron
Raymond Hatton ... Brown
Mabel Van Buren ... Prisoner


Lydia Thorne, a wealthy girl who loves speed and thrills, is unsympathetic when Evans, her maid, is jailed for stealing her jewels. District Attorney Daniel O'Bannon visits Lydia to make her see the error of her own ways, but instead views a scene of Lydia and her friends that reminds him of a Roman orgy. O'Bannon feels it is his duty, therefore, to send Lydia to jail for her own good when her automobile driving causes the death of a motorcycle policeman. Lydia is resentful, and her rebuff of O'Bannon, who has come to love her, causes him such remorse that he turns to drink and dissipation. Meanwhile, Lydia reforms, realizes she loves O'Bannon, and resolves to do charitable work. She and Evans open a soup kitchen after their release, and a chance meeting with O'Bannon starts him on the road to recovery. With Lydia's encouragement he becomes himself again, runs for governor, but withdraws his candidacy to marry Lydia when he sees that her record would be a liability to him in politics. Written by Pamela Short

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Gowns, sets, luxury galore, thrills in profusion and drama as intense as anything you ever saw. Scenes show the barbarian invasion of Rome, and these are the greatest in spectacle the screen has ever seen. (Print Ad-Philadelphia Inquirer, ((Philadelphia, Penna.)) 22 October 1922) See more »




TV-PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Leatrice Joy claimed to have based her performance on Madelynne Obenchain, whose trial she attended in Los Angeles. Obenchain, who murdered her (unreceptive) paramour J. Belton Kennedy in Los Angeles, later had her story incorporated into a film, "A Man and a Million", produced by Charles R. Seeling and starring her husband, Ralph Obenchain. See more »


Mrs. Drummond: It's fine, isn't it, for you to hide yourself from justice behind that veil - but what about this veil that you've made me wear? Your money can't give back my boy!
See more »


Featured in Mary Pickford: A Life on Film (1997) See more »

User Reviews

Women Behind Bars
11 October 2007 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

Thomas Meighan (as Daniel J. O'Bannon) is a district attorney in love with "speed-mad" Leatrice Joy (as Lydia Thorne). Mr. Meighan loves Ms. Joy, "for the girl he thinks she could be," but not the geared up speed freak she is. One day, Joy takes her sporty car out to race a locomotive, and wins! Later, cop Jack Mower (as Jim Drummond) stops her; but, Ms. Joy drops him a diamond necklace, and speeds off to party. Lois Wilson (as Evans) is Joy's maid; to save her ailing son, she steals a jeweled ring from Joy. After Ms. Wilson is sent to the pokey, Joy commits manslaughter. Will D.A. Meighan let her get off?

Bacchannalian parties, which alternate between present and ancient Roman debauches, is a sure sign Cecil B. DeMille is directing. The O'Bannon character's flashbacks to ancient Rome are ludicrous DeMille indulgences. The better indulgence is the generous time DeMille's camera spends in a prison for women; his female prisoners are a lively bunch! The performances are sometimes entertaining, especially Joy and Wilson. Meighan starts off slow, but eventually succumbs to degradation. While fun is spots, this is NOT a great film. The love between Meighan and Joy is not particularly convincing; he shows more interest in Wilson, and might have been wise to run off with her. The story is sometimes inexplicable.

Symbolism likens a doughnut to a life preserver - so, why not a wheel? Coin collectors might enjoy the change in Meighan's pocket when he's down and out - two buffalo nickels and a standing liberty quarter.

***** Manslaughter (1922) Cecil B. DeMille ~ Thomas Meighan, Leatrice Joy, Lois Wilson

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Release Date:

24 September 1922 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Manslaughter See more »


Box Office


$385,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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