Fabien des Grieux, a divinity student, comes to the rescue of a beautiful girl, Manon Lescaut, when her brother tries to "sell" her to the lecherous Comte Guillot de Morfontaine. Fabien and Manon fall in love and he abandons his priestly ambitions. But de Morfontaine has no intention of giving up his desire to possess Manon. She again falls into his clutches. Fabien, borrowing on his father's wealth, transforms himself into a gentleman gambler and moves into court society. But there he discovers that Manon is endangered not only by the cruel de Morfontaine, but by the King of France himself.Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
In an old French cathedral town, during the reign of Louis XV, devoted churchman John Barrymore (as Chevalier Fabien des Grieux) is studying to become a Priest. One May morning, virginal Dolores Costello (as Manon Lescaut) arrives at the musty convent, like "a flower freshly plucked from the countryside"; when Mr. Barrymore sees Ms. Costello, the seeds of romance are firmly planted. Meanwhile, Costello's scheming brother Warner Oland (as André Lescaux) decides to prostitute sister Costello. Barrymore overhears Mr. Oland's plotting, and whisks Costello off to Paris. Eventually, Costello feels the lure of jewels and pretty clothes; and, Barrymore is torn between lust and the Lord.
Sheer nonsense, but extremely well-produced - firstly, Alan Crosland's "When a Man Loves" is another great opportunity to see star lovers Barrymore and Costello (who would soon marry off-screen). Oland and the man he sells Costello to, Sam de Grasse (as Monsieur Guillot de Morfontaine), head up a delightful supporting cast. Look out for a hilariously over-painted Bertram Grassby (as Le Duc de Richelieu), Tom Santschi sneeringly captaining the convict boat, and pretty prisoner Myrna Loy. The convict ship trip ending, with its swelling Vitaphone soundtrack, and Barrymore going ballistic... all fantastic. Barrymore's performance becomes amazing. Don't desert the ship - keep watching until the exciting ending payoff.
******** When a Man Loves (2/3/27) Alan Crosland ~ John Barrymore, Dolores Costello, Warner Oland
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