The Red Samson

Mihály Kertész, 1917. Family story spanning continents about brotherly love and forgiveness.

Premiere: 21 Novemebr 1917 (press-view, Royal-Apolló), 20 December 1917 (premiere, Royal-Apolló)
Genre: feature film, drama, silent film
Director: Mihály Kertész

Original length: 4 acts, 2000 m, length of the Austrian distribution copy: 1600 m
Lost film.

Even on her deathbed, wife of Iván Woronzow is unable to forgive her husband for leaving her and emigrating to America. She makes her son, Sámson, swear to get revenge. After the death of his mother, he sets off to track down his father. In the meantime, in America, Mihály Woronzow, the son from the father’s second marriage, proposes to Edith, the village teacher. The girl’s brother is against the marriage because he knows that the boy’s father came into his wealth unfairly. Michael questions his father, who tells him all about his life. The boy sets off for Helsingfors to find his brother. In the meantime, Sámson arrives in America but his father is on the verge of dying when Sámson recognizes him and true to his vow intends to kill him. Sámson falls in love with Edith at first sight. However, the girl stays true to her fiancé and runs off to Helsingfors where they marry. Mihály is by now a respectable man and leader of a conspiracy against tsarism. The happiness of the young couple is upset by Sámson who reveals the plot. In the meantime, however, he himself is charged with murder and the two brothers are deported to a Siberian mine. Here, the shared pain awakens brotherly love in the breast of Sámson and he places his weaker younger brother under his protection. During a prison riot both manage to escape. However, Mihály is recaptured and sentenced to death. This is when Edith, who has been searching for him, appears. Sámson sacrifices himself for the happiness of his brother by claiming he is Mihály Woronzow, and accepts the death sentence in his place.

What makes it interesting?
The love-hate relationship of the two brothers in the Mihály Kertész drama was portrayed by Gyula Csortos and Tivadar Uray. The interesting feature about this story spanning continents is that it traverses the worlds of American working class districts, Finnish cities and Siberian punishment camps in just a single story, thus posing a serious artistic challenge.

Cast & Crew
Production Companies: Phönix
Writer: Hall Caine (novel, The Bondman, 1906)
Cinematographer: József Bécsi
Cast: László Csiky (Edward Thursten), Ica Lenkeffy (Edith, Edward's niece), János Bodnár (Ivan Woronzow), Gyula Csortos (Sámson, Ivan's son), Tivadar Uray (Mihály, Ivan's other son), Irma F. Lányi (Sámson's mother), Lajos Réthey


Photo: poster by József Elek Csortos. Source: NFI