Starring Alla Nazimova and Rudolph Valentino
MOTION PICTURE CLASSIC
The story of the courtesan, Marguerite Gautier, and her tragic love for Armand Duval, as penned by Alexander Dumas, the younger, is too familiar to need outlining. The present Nazimova version is more or less freakish thruout, altho frankly it is the best thing the Russian star has given to the screen in a long time, taken all in all.
Nazimova has taken innumerable liberties with the Dumas romance. There are the so-called "impressionistic" settings, for instance. These seem to us merely bizarre backgrounds, suggestive of a Broadway ladies' shop. Real impressionism aids the dramatic mood, as in the superb backgrounds of "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari." Certainly, genuine impressionism would aid the dramatic movement rather than cry out with garish stridency, as in the settings of the Nazimova "Camille."
We understand that Mme. Nazimova constructed two conclusions to "Camille": one in which she follows the original novel in that the heroine dies alone, and the other in which she follows the play, wherein the lady of the camellias dies, for the sake of dramatic effectiveness, in the arms of the sorrowing Armand. We had the opportunity of viewing only the former, which, we must admit, has not the emotional wrench of the speaking play's climax.
Mme. Nazimova's performance varies thru the film version. It runs perilously close to burlesque in the early moments, if, indeed, it does not cross the dangerous line. But it hints at pathos as it progresses, and there is a real note in the death of Camille. Actually, these final moments are the best thing Mme. Nazimova has given the screen since the days of "Revelation."
"Camille" is very nearly a series of close-ups of the star. The flashes of Rudolph Valentino as Armand indicate further promise in this highly promising young actor, but the remainder of the cast is wholly out of the atmosphere.
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