Scen.: Paul Bern dal romanzo di Hall Caine “The Master of Man: the Story of a Sin”; F.: Charles Van Enger; Scgf.: Cedric Gibbons; Cost.: Sophie Wachner; Int.: Mae Busch (Bessie Collister), Conrad Nagel (Victor Stowell), Hobart Bosworth (Christian Stowell), Creighton Hale (Alick Gell), Patsy Ruth Miller (Fenella Stanley), Winter Hall (Gov. Stanley), Aileen Pringle (Isabelle), De Witt Jennings (Dan Collister), Evelyn Selbie (Lisa Collister), Mark Fenton (Constable Cain), Anna Hernandez (Mrs Quayle), Mrs Charles Craig (Mrs Brown), Cecil Holland, Lucien Littlefield, William Orlamont, Charles Mailes, Andrew Arbuckle; Prod.: Victor Sjöström per Goldwyn Studios; 35mm. L.: 1550 m. D.: 69’ a 20 f/s. Col.
Film history does not generally give much importance to Sjöström’s first Hollywood film. The Swedish director apparently agreed to make it only to avoid even worse projects. But when we see what remains, the result does not seem in any way unworthy of its name. Firstly, though the context is more conventional, the theme is strangely reminiscent of The Scarlet Letter. And, though Sjöström wasn’t enthusiastic about the story conceived of by Paul Bern and supervised by June Mathis, everything shows that he took his work very much to heart. The découpage of the film counts close to 1300 shots, and pages without intertitles are not rare. The film also benefits from remarkable editing work. La Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique possessed an acetate copy of the film that contained Russian intertitles and came from Gosfilmofond. It was however clearly incomplete. The Swedish Film Institute possessed another copy, also Russian, that was more recent and paradoxically longer. Kevin Brownlow, who has seen them both, found the cutting continuity which contained the original intertitles and references regarding the coloring. The problem with the Russian copies (a problem that arises not only with these copies) is that they show us how the film was screened in the Soviet Union. The Russians, as well as others, didn’t mind modifying the film, or even the script, if they found it necessary. And not just for ideological or political reasons. When possible, they relieved films of any excesses judged as superfluous and of any artifice in the script that didn’t work. With this in mind, Name the Man raises a rather annoying question. No copy contains an ending title.