Charlie Chaplin (1951)

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"A Woman of Paris" 169 "Life," which he had never completed because of the demand for comedies. It was his ambition to do at least one big dramatic feature to show the world that he could be something else besides a clown. To this end, in 1917, he purchased the rights to Hall Caine's "The Prodigal Son" intending to cast himself in the title role. That pic- ture was never even started. The story of his new film was built around some chap- ters in the early life of Peggy Hopkins Joyce. It also has suggestions of "Camille" and a pessimistic flavor a la Hardy. It ran through three titles—"Destiny," which was discarded, then "Public Opinion," under which it was known in Europe, and "A Woman of Paris," its title in this country. In "A Woman of Paris" Chaplin also fulfilled his promise to Edna Purviance to make a dramatic actress of her. Indeed, the film was made partly for this purpose, his reward to his loyal leading lady, who had appeared in all his comedies for nine years, a total of thirty-four films. For the male lead Chaplin picked Adolphe Menjou. Re- putedly Peggy Joyce pointed him out as resembling a certain wealthy bon-vivant of Paris. After some dickering he was hired at five hundred dollars a week—a much higher salary than Chaplin usually paid. The impression many have that Menjou was discovered by Chaplin is mistaken. Menjou had a not inconsiderable reputation, already, as a "villain" and character actor and had ap- peared in Pickford's "Through the Back Door," Fair- banks' "The Three Musketeers" (as Louis XIII), Valen- tino's "The Sheik," Wallace Reid's "Clarence," and other features. However, "A Woman of Paris" launched him in the new suave and cynical philanderer role in which he was to win great success in many subsequent pictures. Ironically Edna Purviance's career, instead of being advanced, was virtually brought to an end by "A Woman of Paris." The public had become accustomed to seeing