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The Man Without Desire (1923)

A doctor suspends the life of a mourning lover and he is revived 200 years later.


Adrian Brunel


Adrian Brunel (story), Frank Fowell (scenario) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview:
Ivor Novello ... Count Vittorio Dandolo
Nina Vanna Nina Vanna ... Leonora / Genevia
Sergio Mari Sergio Mari ... Almoro / Gordi
Chris Walker Chris Walker ... Roger / Mawdesley
Jane Dryden Jane Dryden ... Luigia
Dorothy Warren Dorothy Warren ... Foscolnia
Adrian Brunel Adrian Brunel ... Reporter


A doctor suspends the life of a mourning lover and he is revived 200 years later.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

December 1923 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Man Without a Soul See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Atlas Biocraft See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The celebrated war-poet Siegfried Sassoon was visiting Venice when Ivor Novello was in the Italian city shooting The Man Without Desire (1923). At that time, Sassoon confided to his diary his dislike of Novello, whom he associated with the smash-hit song of the First World War, "Keep The Home Fires Burning", the tune of which Novello had written. However, a couple of years later, in 1924, when Novello was in the West End starring in his own play, "The Rat", Sassoon became involved in a whirlwind love affair with the devastatingly handsome actor. Novello seems to have seduced and then discarded Sassoon in a matter of only a few weeks, leaving the poet emotionally bruised and embittered. Significantly, Sassoon destroyed his diary entries for the period of his affair with Novello. See more »


A cut away shot of an article in an 18th century copy of The Gazzetta Veneziana has been typed on a modern typewriter. See more »

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User Reviews

Irony, Oh, Irony
29 December 2016 | by drednmSee all my reviews

Ivor Novello stars in this romantic fantasy set in 18th century Venice where Count Dandolo (Novello) falls for a beautiful woman (Nina Vanna) who is married to a philandering cad. In his desperate attempt to free her from the swine, things go wrong and she dies instead of him. In a fit of anger, Novello kills the man.

He runs to his doctor friend who agrees to put him in a state of suspended animation (he is a student of Indian occult arts) and they quickly work out a plan whereby Novello will be "awakened" in 200 years, freed from his crime. But the doctor also warns that his future life may lack "savour." Flash forward to his "awakening." Culture shock aside, Novello makes his way to the scene of the crime only to discover a lookalike descendant of his beloved. She is abut to marry the lookalike descendant of the man he killed. Novello races to save the woman and marries her.

But something is wrong. As the doctor predicted, his life lacks "savour," and the wife feels cheated. He is impotent. He cannot live a life like this and writes a farewell note.

Handsome production is rather slow by today's standards, with the first half of the film devoted to the old Venice story. Film marks the first feature for director Adrian Brunel (who also plays the newspaper writer) who shot the film in Berlin with location shooting in Venice. The German Expressionism of the era shows up in the set designs.

Certainly an interesting film, and Novello is quite good. The ending uses a medium close-up in bright light with the background blacked out for maximum effect. Vanni was a Russian-born actress in British silent films. She seems very fragile. An important film for matinée idol Novello.

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