Reviews for A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate ( ) 720p

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Chaplin's first stab at drama is a lacklustre affair

Jean and Marie are madly in love and want to get married but their parents are opposed to it. They plan to elope to Paris but Jean has to back out at the last moment. Marie leaves without him and head to Paris. Within a year she has become quite the socialite, complete with wealthy boyfriend. Then she runs into Jean again and must decide between love and money.

Charlie Chaplin's first drama and also a rare movie of his where he does not star (he does appear though, in a minor uncredited role). The result is lacklustre.

It started off very well: I was engaged by the story of the two lovers fighting to be together against their parents' wills. However, once the setting shifted to Paris it became more melodramatic and like a soap opera, filled with social machinations. The engagement levels dropped and by the end I really didn't care too much about the characters.

The ending is overly dramatic, considering what lead up it, but does have a touch of poetry to it.

Overall, not entirely a waste of time but not great either.

Love, fate and comfort

Am a big fan of Charlie Chaplin, have been for over a decade now. Many films and shorts of his are very good to masterpiece, and like many others consider him a comedy genius and one of film's most important and influential directors.

It is hard to not expect a lot after not long before Chaplin had one of his earliest career highs in 'The Kid'. 'A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate' doesn't disappoint, and it shows Chaplin having properly found his style and fully settled. As said with many of his post-Keystone efforts, it shows a noticeable step up in quality though from his Keystone period, where he was still evolving and in the infancy of his long career. The Essanay and Mutual periods were something of Chaplin's adolescence period where his style had been found and starting to settle. After Mutual the style had properly settled and the cinematic genius emerged. Very much apparent here in 'A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate', which may not be one of Chaplin's best but it is to me one of his most under-appreciated.

It is let down by the melodramatic ending that comes over too as silly and an interpolated music score composed not long before Chaplin's death that is intrusive and doesn't fit the film.

On the other hand, 'A Woman of Fate: A Drama of Fate' looks great, from Essanay onwards, and it is certainly the case here, it was obvious that Chaplin was taking more time with his work and not churning out countless shorts in the same year of very variable success like he did with Keystone. It's actually one of his technically best-looking efforts from this period.

'A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate' is also funny and very charming, never coming over as dull and never being too over-sentimental. It features some of Chaplin's most remarkable directing of any effort of his up to this point in his career. He similarly gets the best out of his cast, with the standouts being the ever charming and quite touching Edna Purviance and especially a superb Adolphe Menjou in a star-making turn.

Concluding, very well done. 8/10 Bethany Cox

performance and direction trump a formulaic story

A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate gives us a familiar little story: do you pick the man with the money or the man with the artistic drive and heart (and not really much money)? It's also set in the 1920's since it is, you know, from that decade, but it helps that Charlie Chaplin, in his one and only true dramatic offering, sets it in the milieu of Paris, France of the early 20's when things were bright and alive and Champagne flowed and people danced and so on. It fits to have this story here, and all of the actors are game for it.

Ultimately, this may not be the most original story, as it follows a woman who is kicked out of her home (because, in brief, it sucks as we're told) and goes to Paris in a moment of high dramatic tension and then ends up being attached to one man (Menjou) while the other does come to town and becomes a painter. And lordy-lord it has some exceptionally melodramatic beats.

But Chaplin's light touch connects well with a honestly dramatic and even existential story of a woman caught in a question of choice, and how the choices of the two men (one who is too guilt-ridden over his mother, the other who has no guilt about anything, certainly not the fact that he's made this woman the "other" woman) are wonderfully well drawn, and the performance by Purviance makes her akin to Diane Keaton to his Woody Allen (and there's Adolphe Menjou, who revels in being a high-society cad). Oh, and the music, while a bit repetitive, is also a great fit for the material.

Belongs among Chaplin's finest work.

It takes a very out-of-character film to be the oddest of a filmmaker's career that includes Monsieur Verdoux. Not featuring Charlie Chaplin himself, it's not really a surprise that A Woman Of Paris: A Drama Of Fate wasn't popular back in the day, but that doesn't mean it's not a good film. In fact, it's a great one. Though it's hard to say what version the 1920s audience watched as Chaplin re-edited and re-scored it at the end of his career in the 1970s, he certainly knew there was a gem in there somewhere. It's one of his most tightly wound and compelling films. Although you never feel particularly close to the protagonists, their characterisation is quite complex and fascinating for a film of this era. It has brilliant ironic scenes such as where the 'woman' throws something valuable about of a window to prove she doesn't need possessions then chases down someone who innocently picks it up. It adds a lot of layers to his usually simple style and gives a mature approach to the dilemma of living for money or love. Although it has plenty of tragedy and comedy, the only issues are the sappy ending that comes out of nowhere and confusing motivations from the fiancé. Otherwise, it's belongs among his finest films and, dare I say, features his best composed score of his whole career. Chaplin certainly began and ended on high notes.


One of Chaplin's great contributions to the cinema.

This is an exquisite film that needs to be seen with some understanding of the era in which it was made. It was a critical success for good reason, and it's ironic style and subtle acting was a great influence on directors such as Lubitsch. It was not a popular success in the US but was well understood and acclaimed as such in Europe. I notice that some reviewers decry it as melodrama, but there is no reason why melodrama should not be an acceptable form of art. I would urge viewers to immerse themselves more in the treasures of the silent cinematic era, as there are many lessons to be learned therefrom for today's aspiring artists in any medium.

"It's not so bad this way"

Charlie Chaplin's only completely straight drama that he directed but did not star in was a flop in its day, and due to its anomalous status has not fared especially well in later years either. Nevertheless it has had its champions, like British director Michael Powell and Swedish actress and director Liv Ullmann, and is hailed in some quarters as being as sensational and innovative as his comedies.

However a look at the formal style of A Woman of Paris shows much more simply an assured yet conventional grasp of film form, consistent with Hollywood production of the time. As in his comedies, Chaplin shows an intelligent handling of space and arrangement. In those early shots he gives a cramped feeling by having side walls visible up to the edge of the frame and foreground objects like the bed in Edna Purviance's room leaving little room for manoeuvre. An honourable mention goes here to the cinematography of Roland Totheroh which resembles Rembrandt lighting in all but one aspect – the slight level of clarity in the darkness (as oppose to full shadow) gives a very real feeling of squalor to those opening scenes. Chaplin also makes great use of background and foreground, minimising cuts by having multiple characters in the shot at once. Often there is emotional acting up front with physical acting out back. This is all superb, but it is hardly ground-breaking for the period, nor is it particularly surprising to anyone who has studied Chaplin's other works.

The plot of A Woman of Paris too is a fairly routine melodrama, with many twists that are clichéd and hard-to-swallow. Its condemnation of the excesses of wealthy socialites could almost have been borrowed from one of Mr DeMille's moral crusades. This being Chaplin however its depictions are generally a little more sensitive and humane than the average, and while we do have that hackneyed device of a man ruined by an unfaithful woman, in this case the woman is herself a more or less innocent victim of a callous playboy, and her reasons for her lack of fidelity to one man are at least given some empathetic explanation.

However, A Woman of Paris's melodrama, in spite of its formulaic structure, has a kind of truth-to-life that most other melodramas fail to achieve. Chaplin draws from his cast some steady, measured performances, free from the overt gesture and strained mugging of your typical silent picture. The emoting is clearly stated, yet it is never overstated. The wonderfully restrained Adolphe Menjou makes the best job of this, underplaying everything with a kind of suaveness which makes us believe women could be attracted to him in spite of his being a repellent bounder. Purviance is great too, always having been a competent straight woman to Charlie's funny man, now sticking to a languid pace and letting the emotions drift on and off her face. It's also nice to see Henry Bergman, probably the most professional of Chaplin's regular players, making a bit part and adding just a little note of the ridiculous without violating the drama. Amongst the other cast members, all of whom are now forgotten, no-one exactly stands out, but by the same token none of them shows themselves up with a bad job.

And while, like most Hollywood pictures of the time, A Woman of Paris is a little excessive with the intertitles, Chaplin rarely uses words to give anything away. Moments such as the young artist realising Purviance has another man in her life are revealed with sequences of visual clues, giving them an incredible smoothness and forcing us to really pay attention to those subtle reactions. Then there are those little touches of genius, those moments that separate the truly great filmmakers from the merely good, such as Purviance slowing down when she encounters a gendarme after hastily retrieving her necklace. With A Woman of Paris Chaplin, with his typical mix of unpretentiousness and devoted humanism, dives shamelessly into the lowest depths of melodrama, whilst giving to that genre a sprinkling of the dignity and honesty it so often lacks.

A Chaplin film without Chaplin as a performer

1923's "A Woman of Paris is probably not what you'd expect in a Chaplin film based on the totality of his body of work, both in features and in shorts. However, that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile viewing. It just means if you are new to Chaplin, you might not want to start here.

"A Woman of Paris" showed Chaplin's talent behind the camera without him appearing in front of it, except for a lone cameo in which he quickly appears and then disappears acting as a luggage boy. He made it for two reasons, to do some pioneering in cinematic technique and to help give his long time costar and companion Edna Purviance a career boost. The film is actually quite good with great performances by Purviance and by Adolphe Menjou as a carefree playboy. The film did make a star out of Menjou. It didn't really help Purviance that much. The film is about a pair of star-crossed lovers that circumstance drives apart and then brings back together and the eventual tragedy that occurs due to the weakness of will of Purviance's character's one time fiancé, played by Carl Miller.

The film was a failure at the box office, not because it was bad, but because audiences expected to see Chaplin when they went to a Chaplin film. After the failure of this film, Chaplin went back to formulas that were tried and true for him and never really went out on a limb experimenting again, which is too bad for all of us.

Chaplin's Comedy of Manners

A Woman of Paris has all the makings of a film noir, but fails to deliver on this score, despite the tragic end met by one of the major characters. Chaplin, as writer/director/producer observes the action of this character at a distance (and the fact that he is enacted by a rather charmless Carl Miller further adds to an audience's lack of empathy).

Despite Chaplin's Foreword insistence that his movie is not a comedy but a drama, it is actually for the most part an enjoyable comedy of manners, a field in which delightfully dapper Adolphe Menjou excelled, enabling him to easily snatch the picture from its nominal star, Edna Purviance. It seems Chaplin's camera cannot help but focus on Menjou. Chaplin's classy dialogue sub-titles also added a fillip, but Menjou's breezy, rich-as-they-come, luxuriantly self-indulgent take-it-it-leave-it manner would have ensured his success even without Chaplin's help.

Chaplin actually conceived the film to launch Edna Purviance (who had starred with him in shorts like the 1919 Sunnyside) as a major star. This ploy was not successful. In my opinion, Miss Purviance lacked both the figure and the charisma that Hollywood stardom demanded. In the Chaplin shorts, she is little more than a foil for the tramp. In A Woman of Paris even newcomer Betty Morrissey and minor players like Malvina Polo, Henry Bergmam and Nelly Bly Baker steal scenes from her, to say nothing of Lydia Knott who compels attention as Jean's fussed mother.

Parisian Melodrama

I was looking in Charlie Chaplin's memoirs and I found that his original idea for the plot of A Woman Of Paris came from pillow talk with Peggy Hopkins Joyce involving one of her former boyfriends, a French publisher. From this came Charlie's idea to direct, but not appear in a film and hopefully make his long time leading lady from slapstick comedy, Edna Purviance a major dramatic star.

The reason given for the non-success of A Woman of Paris is usually given as the fact that people bought tickets and were disappointed that they did not see a Charlie Chaplin comedy. Probably on the silent screen, star images were even more fixed in people's minds than they were when sound came in.

But seeing it today it really does go overboard into melodrama. Edna's a simple country girl who loves Carl Miller, a struggling artist. Some blind mischances of fate and she winds up the paid woman of Parisian rake Adolphe Menjou. It's the tragedy of one romantic and the salvation of sorts for the other that are the basis of the story.

You couldn't make a film like it today, audiences would just laugh at it. In 1923 audiences were looking for laughs attached to the Chaplin name and found none. Edna does a fine job, but the public would not accept her in a drama. Adolphe Menjou as the rake comes off best in the cast.

The film ironically enough was Chaplin's first for the newly formed United Artists of which he was a quarter interest partner. After this one failed at the box office, he went back to cranking out the comedies we expected from him.

Back when I was working person at New York State Crime Victims Board, I had a claimant named Wayne Purviance who was the victim of an anti-gay bias attack in 1982. It was a crime that galvanized the GLBT people of New York City, this person in particular. Wayne was the grand nephew of Edna Purviance.

He's no longer among the living, but to you Wayne Purviance who took some real blows for millions of people, this review is lovingly dedicated to you and your wonderful aunt.

An excellent drama from the first genius of Cinema

A Woman Of Paris was an acclaimed success with the critics when it was Originally released on 1st October 1923. However, the audience despised it as they wanted to see Charlie Chaplin the tramp starring in a film not a film directed by Chaplin in which he does not appear (albeit in a small cameo role). When i first saw the film on BBC2 around Christmas 1998 i thought Chaplin had a starring role so was naturally disappointed when i found out this wasn't the case. However, since then i have become a huge fan of Chaplin and all his work so now I think this film is rated among Chaplin's best features. His musical score composed in 1976 with Eric Rogers was Chaplin's last ever work in his film career which spanned 62 years. By 1976 Chaplin was very frail and struggled to communicate so the fact that he could compose the music for a near 80 minute film is amazing and the fact that the music score is as good as any of his other films is also astonishing. Charles Chaplin was a true genius of Cinema and A Woman Of Paris is an excellent example of Chaplin as director, writer and composer.

"? the magic city of Paris, where fortune is fickle and a woman gambles with life."

The second film in my somewhat unusual Charles Chaplin double feature (after the delightfully black 'Monsieur Verdoux (1947)'), 'A Woman of Paris' is perhaps the silent comedy master's least mentioned film, perhaps partly due to it not actually being a comedy, or because Chaplin himself appears only in a very brief cameo role. His first and, I'll venture, his only strictly dramatic feature, the film traces the romantic dilemma of a young French woman living in Paris. It was Chaplin's first film with United Artists ? which he had founded in 1919 with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and D.W. Griffith. Originally entitled 'Public Opinion' and then 'Destiny,' Chaplin considered a dozen more titles before he finally settled on a name.

Marie St. Clair (Edna Purviance) and her romance Jean Millet (Clarence Geldart), an aspiring artist, residents of a small French village, have plans to move to Paris and get married. However, unfortunate circumstances delay their plans, and Marie impulsively boards the train without Jean. A year or so later, Marie has assimilated into the upper-class lifestyle of Paris, having become the mistress of a wealthy, cynical businessman, Pierre Revel (Adolphe Menjou). It is then that she and Jean suddenly meet again. Though there are undoubtedly still feelings between them, Marie must decide whether she can sacrifice all of Pierre's luxuries to pursue the man that she loves.

Written, produced and directed by Chaplin, 'A Woman of Paris' is a tightly-paced drama/romance, employing a lot of dialogue (somewhat unusual for Chaplin, who usually relied on extended slapstick comedic set pieces to drive his silent films) and a three-way relationship that has since become commonplace in films of this sort. The film allowed Chaplin to extend his skills beyond the realm of the lovable little Tramp. Unfortunately, this seemingly was not what audiences wanted. Perhaps perceived as a harmful satire of the American way of life, 'A Woman of Paris' was banned in several US states on the grounds of immorality, and it was a commercial flop. Chaplin had conceived the film as a means of launching the individual acting career of Edna Purviance, though this bid was unsuccessful. It did, however, make an international star of Adolphe Menjou.

Many critics, despite the poor box office performance, praised the film's startling realism. Notably, director Michael Powell ('Black Narcissus,' 'Peeping Tom') cited 'A Woman of Paris' as his greatest inspiration to become a filmmaker. In 1976, a frail Charles Chaplin ? just one year before his death ? reissued the edited film with a new musical score he had composed, aided by music arranger Eric James. A criminally underrated silent classic, 'A Woman of Paris' is yet another testament to Chaplin's undeniable cinematic genius.

Genius' craftsmanship

Previously my picture of Mr Charlie Chaplin in my mind's eye had been the following: a tiny clownish fellow who kicks other actors in the ass and gets thrashed and kicked in reply. In the course of time my perception changed. His music was playing as the background for the movies he participated in. Surprise. It was not Mozart but the clown himself. Now there is this film and it's definitely cinematic art. So many present-day directors cannot reach even 1/100th of the effect that is achieved by this black-and-white film that is even mute. It has no fountains of blood, no slo-mo, no bullets hitting foreheads, no explosions, no sex scenes, no *beep* words, no crude toilet humour, no trash-talk, no flat melodramatic elements, no crocodile tears, no stupid laughs. What more should a viewer want? The bitter irony and drama are scattered here and there. Its quality can be compared to the quality of the famous "Jeeves and Wooster" before it hit the appalling cast changes (hope, you know what is meant here).

Here goes mine 10.

Thank you for attention.

A Look Back in the Past

Have to give this film a BIG TEN, it is a wonderful look back into the 20's when things were silent on the big screen and it was a different generation than 2000 plus. In those days everything was Radio and the Film Studio's. This is a great production by Charlie Chaplin and his mistress Edna, who was the love of his life, Edna Purviance. The story is about a young man who falls in love with a young gal and his dad and mom disapprove and at the same time tragedy hits the young man's family and he misses out on a very important date. Years go by and the young man still hangs on to his mother and finally meets up with the young gal he was deeply in love with years ago. Charlie Chaplin, produced, directed and composed the music for this film and did have a brief walk on appearance in the film. The public at the time were disappointed in this film, because Chaplin did not appear in the film, which he should have. In real life Charlie should have married Edna Purviance and ended all the scandal he created. This is too great a Classic film to find fault or criticize a masterpiece of the 1920's.

I'm giving this an 8 despite its many faults

Marie St. Clair (Edna Purviance) is running away to Paris with boyfriend Jean Millet (Carl Miller). Unfortunately his father dies and he can't go. She goes alone. A year later she is a "kept" woman of rich Pierre revel (Adolphe Menjou). Then, by accident, she runs into Jean who has moved to Paris with his mother. She still loves him...but will he want her now? There are some huge problems with this film. For one thing--the overbearing music score that director/writer Charlie Chaplin added in 1977. It's loud, annoying and obtrusive. Often it doesn't even match what's on the screen! Cheerful music playing during dramatic sequences totally destroy any effect those scenes might have held. Also the plot is just ridiculous and very corny and VERY melodramatic at the end.

I'm giving this a high rating for a few reasons: it's beautifully directed by Chaplin--just stunning to look at. And, despite the plot, all the actors are just fantastic. Miller is handsome, strong and very affecting as the hero. Purviance is just perfect as Marie--you feel all her pain and indecision. Best of all is Menjou--this made him an instant star. He's just great as the heartless Revel.

So, I recommend it. Just turn the sound off and the acting will carry you over the rough spots.

Beautifully directed and acted

Charles Chaplin is noted for his comedy performances, and deservedly.

His direction, though, should be more highly regarded, if only for this one motion picture.

Compare the quality of the photography and the smoothness of the editing to, for example, "The Gold Rush," of about the same time.

"A Woman of Paris" is very modern; "The Gold Rush" is downright primitive (but, in spots, brilliant).

"A Woman of Paris" also shows some admirable acting talent in, really, all the players. Some of the lesser characters are still played beautifully, despite being "lesser," especially Marie's maids and her, more or less, friends, and very especially the masseuse.

And the scene where the artist's mother, played by Lydia Knott, bent on revenge, comes upon Marie -- with no words, just body movement and facial expression -- she tells the audience what the proverbial thousand words could not so well.

Credit for part of that good acting must, of course, go to the director, but even the best director can't make much of poor actors.

Chaplin had very good actors. Adolphe Menjou reached stardom, and deservedly. What a tremendous talent; he could do everything.

Edna Purviance should have achieved much more acclaim. She performed admirably, especially in this movie, and she was attractive. Fame is certainly fickle.

In some ways, "A Woman of Paris" might be written off by a few as "soap opera." But it is well worth watching for the performances and, especially, for the directing.

An early Charlie Chaplin flub

As his first United Artists picture, Chaplin tried a modern melodrama, perhaps thinking it to be what the public wanted. Unfortunately, it never comes together. Edna Purviance just seems to go through the motions though Adolphe Menjou is at his best.

Many nice touches of the sort seen in pictured directed by Erich von Stroheim. Wonderful women's costumes and sets in the best Hollywood style. Try to see the film with live musical accompaniment - the Chaplin score is overwrought.