Review of A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate (1923)
Seen in 2019.
I saw the restored version, with Chaplin’s (recorded) score.
Competently made. An earlier melodramatic form is the skeleton of the story, and the camera moves hardly at all over staged interiors still strongly reminiscent of Ibsen’s bourgeois naturalist theatre, but Chaplin had learned the lessons of Sjöström. There are little seeds of filmic aesthetics scattered throughout, particularly in the jokes. In 2019 it is liberating to see a leading lady in Max Factor’s Hollywood who looks plain by the standards of Photoshop’s Hollywood, and the script is at least a solid illustration of Kurt Vonnegut’s rule to “start as close to the end as possible”. Unfortunately, the transitions between prelude, main body and postlude are all pretty nonsensical and the main attraction is supposed to be the spectacle of Paris on just a handful of interior sets. The brief exteriors are all in Los Angeles. The only character who is properly characterized is the villain, Pierre Revel, and he’s the least nuanced of the lot.
References here: The Rage of Paris (1938).