English intertitles Release dateAugust 21, 1927 (1927-08-21) Based onManon Lescaut
by Abbe Prevost WriterBess Meredyth (adapted by) Produced byWarner Bros. Entertainment CastJohn Barrymore (Chevalier Fabien des Grieux), Dolores Costello (Manon Lescaut), Warner Oland (André Lescaut) Similar moviesRelated Alan Crosland movies
When a Man Loves is a 1927 American silent historical drama film directed by Alan Crosland and produced and distributed by Warner Bros.. The picture stars John Barrymore and features Dolores Costello in the frequently filmed story of Abbe Prevost's 1731 novel Manon Lescaut. The UK release title was His Lady.
The film was the third feature from Warners to have a pre-recorded Vitaphone soundtrack.
Chevalier Fabien des Grieux, who has forsworn the world for the church, falls passionately in love with young Manon Lescaut when he encounters her en route to a convent with her brother André. The lustful Comte Guillot de Morfontaine offers André a tempting sum for Manon, and learning of their bargain, Fabien takes her to Paris, where they spend an idyllic week in a garret. André finds her, persuades her to leave Fabien, and tries to force her into an alliance with Morfontaine—then rescues Manon from the advances of a brutal Apache. Fabien, crushed to believe that Manon has become Morfontaine's mistress, is about to take his vows but is deterred by her love for him. King Louis sees Manon in Richelieu's drawing room and wins her. The rejected Morfontaine orders her arrest and deportation, but he is killed by Fabien, who joins Manon on a convict ship bound for America. After inciting the convicts to mutiny, he escapes with her in a small boat.
When a Man Loves re-teamed Barrymore and Costello after 1925's The Sea Beast. The film is the third and last film in Barrymore's first Warners contract, having been preceded by The Sea Beast and Don Juan. He and director Alan Crosland would re-team once again at United Artists to make The Beloved Rogue, another French costume story that was selected because of the popularity of When a Man Loves. This film version of When a Man Loves repeats the ending of The Sea Beast, providing a happy ending rather than the tragic ending of the source material.
Many of the people who worked on the previous year's Don Juan worked on When a Man Loves, such as director Crosland, writer Bess Meredyth, editor Harold McCord, and director of photography Byron Haskin.
When the film played in the theatre, the audience was so amazed that the sound was coming from the speakers, not from an actual live orchestra. A New York Times reviewer said that he, and probably the rest of the audience, forgot the fact that there was actually no orchestra in the theatre. At the end of the film, The Vitaphone Symphony Orchestra was shown to the audience for about 15 seconds.
Premiere Vitaphone short subjects
When A Man Loves premiered at the Selwyn Theatre in New York City, New York on February 3, 1927.
On June 16, 2009, When a Man Loves was released on DVD from Warner's Archive Collection. This was the film's first home video appearance anywhere.