A WOMAN OF PARIS
starring Adolphe Menjou and Edna Purviance
This picture is significant because, in its production, Charles Chaplin proves that he is one of the greatest of all directors. But it is not great, and it is for the sophisticated rather than for a strictly family audience. Any fifteen-year old child who appreciates it should be taken home and spanked. But we do recommend it most highly to readers of Photoplay who are interested in the technique of motion pictures, for in it Mr. Chaplin has given other directors a post-graduate course in the use of simplicity for the achievement of effectiveness. Chaplin wrote the story, and you are inclined to be angry with him for not permitting a good writer to furnish him with a subject that would have been worthy of his skill in direction. The critics have raved about this new revelation of Chaplin's genius, but the truth of the matter is that he has demonstrated his peerless qualities in that respect in dramatic episodes in many of his comedies. In brief, it is the story of a young French girl from a small town who becomes the mistress of a wealthy Parisian, but who learns too late that "Rags are royal raiment when worn for virtue's sake." As a result of her work, Edna Purviance will probably be sought after by other producers, and Adolphe Menjou, always a good actor, will be given the opportunities he has long deserved. Fortunately, Mr. Chaplin is not to forsake the comedies which the world needs. He indicated that in his little talk the night the picture opened in New York, when he said he hoped the public would not take his effort too seriously. But how we would like to see him essay a serious role like "The Music Master" once anyhow. We feel confident he would surpass any actor on the stage or screen in such a performance.
A WOMAN OF PARIS
Starring Edna Purviance and Adolphe Menjou
We give "A Woman of Paris" first place among the pictures of the past month. And, as a mater of fact, we would still permit it to head the list if we were reviewing the pictures of all time. It was written and directed by Charlie Chaplin, but he does not appear in it. Its warp is old, but, for that mater, the greatest dramas and novels are those which deal freshly with life's oldest problems.
Charlie Chaplin may never reap the full benefit of the great thing he has done. But we are certain that he has changed the future of motion pictures. Observing producers cannot help but emulate him. And this, in itself, will mark a radical advance in the art of the screen.
In the story the villain is quite the most fascinating character involved. Perhaps that is why he managed to escape the bounds of convention and society. The hero is a good boy but without character or initiative. He would have settled into a humdrum husband. And looking around us we cannot help but note countless humdrum husbands who once were heroes. The heroine is attractive, but we are sure the women of her acquaintance marveled over what her two admirers saw in her. Selah. Here we have life.
And when a great moment comes to three of the characters, they say, in turn, "Well." And we have noticed that people invariably say "Well" when attending circumstances completely baffle them. It is a sophisticated production, but the treatment is so subtle that the most righteous censor could not, in fairness, use his shears.
By far, the finest performance is contributed by Adolphe Menjou who, technically speaking, plays the villain. Only Charlie Chaplin in writing and directing his story has realized that life and people are fairly well tempered. And the villain's glorious sense of humor, his charm of grace and manner and his brilliance somewhat atone for his philandering. Edna Purviance, whom Mr. Chaplin features (probably in appreciation for the years in which she has played with him in his comedies) handles her role adequately. She is a beautiful woman and, in her womanly stature, a relief from the tiny blonde ingenues who have monopolized the screen. Miss Purviance actually looks like a human being.
We have seen several splendid plays lately and read a number of fine books, but none of these things have stimulated us to such an extent as "A Woman of Paris." There have been other productions punctuating our career as a critic, which have had intelligent bits in them. "A Woman of Paris" is the brilliant ensemble of intelligent and artistic bits. It is wholly delightful and enthralling.
If Charlie Chaplin ever forsakes his beloved characterization, we hope it will be for the estate of a director. And, in the meantime, while he appears in a few more comedies and prepares himself for another interlude as a director, perhaps the art of the screen will in some degree measure up to this production. For "A Woman of Paris" is years ahead of the majority of motion pictures.
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