Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Woman of Paris

A Woman of Paris; Silent drama, USA, 1923; D: Charlie Chaplin, S: Edna Purviance, Carl Miller, Adolphe Menjou

A French village. Jean, a young painter, and Marie are in love with each other, but their parents are strictly against their relationship. The young couple decides to flee to Paris and marry there, but Jean postpones the trip when his father suddenly dies. Marie interprets his delay as a resignation so she goes to Paris alone and becomes a mistress of the rich Pierre. After a long time, Marie again meet Jean and their love blossoms again. But Jean's mother is still against the relationship so Marie goes back to Pierre. Jean, deeply disappointed, commits suicide. Marie and the mother reconcile and open a home for orphans.

Silent Melodrama "A Woman of Paris" is the first serious film from the comedian Charlie Chaplin, but a one he didn't star in (except for a small cameo) thus the commercial and critical success stayed out. Still, although a "fiasco" at it's time, the movie is today rehabilitated, holds on pretty well and has a solid number of admirers. Admitted, "A Woman of Paris" is a step behind Chaplin's classic comedies and it's simple story about a love between the rich Marie and the poor Jean is slightly unmemorable and dangerously close to an soap opera, but for it's time unusually bitter and mature. For instance, in one scene a woman covered with sheets like a mummy disrobes on a party completely nude (although nothing much is shown) while in another Pierre announces to Marie that she will stay his mistress even after he marries another woman. Rarely cheerful, stripped of any kind of humor (except for a few exceptions, like the scene where a woman is throwing her cigarette-stub in a trumpet), this film has flaws, but it bravely displays a brave story of it's author.


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