Wednesday, July 26

Showtime: 7:30 PM

Chautauqua Auditorium

$12.00 ($6.00 Concert Member and children under 12)*

Directed by Victor Sjöström, “The Scarlet Letter” is a 1926 American drama based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel.

Set in Puritan New England, seamstress Hester Prynne (Lillian Gish) is punished for playing on the Sabbath day, but kindly minister Arthur Dimmesdale takes pity on her. The two fall in love, but Hester is already married to Roger Prynne, a physician who has been missing for seven years. Dimmesdale leaves for England and upon his return, finds Hester pregnant with their child, and the focus of the town’s censure. In a humiliating ceremony, she is forced to don the scarlet letter A for adultery until she reveals the father of her child.

MGM was initially reluctant to Lillian Gish’s suggestion that they film an adaptation of “The Scarlet Letter.”  Church and women’s groups considered the book unsuitable for the movies. Various writers had struggled to make Hawthorne’s story acceptable, suggesting that the plot be altered to establish a relationship between Hester and the Reverend prior to their arrival in the New World, or by having Pearl, their love child, be the result of a secret marriage, or by dispensing with the letter “A” altogether, or even by creating a happy ending. After Lillian Gish met with the leaders of many organizations and invited them to read the script and tour the set. Her pristine reputation, combined with a tasteful script by Hollywood screenwriter Frances Marion, caused them to change their minds and give the project their blessing. The film was announced as “It’s a real ‘A’ picture,” taking advantage of the ‘A’ for Adultery.

Running time: 98 minutes

*All ticket purchases subject to service fees