Charlie Chaplin (1951)

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"A Woman of Paris" 173 ners to the screen, and showed how to circumvent the censors by subtleties and laconic touches. It may truly be called the first "Lubitsch" picture, for the great German director, taking his cue from "A Woman of Paris," aban- doned the historical spectacles which had made him fa- mous and embarked on the series of modern social come- dies, "The Marriage Circle," "Forbidden Paradise," "Kiss Me Again," etc. These were to bring him greater fame and start a new school. The impact of "A Woman of Paris" was also perceptible in Monta Bell's "Broadway After Dark" and "The Torrent" (Garbo's first American film), d'Arrast's "Service for Ladies" and "A Gentleman of Paris," Mai St. Clair's "The Grand Duchess and the Waiter," etc. And its influence was diffused through the whole of subsequent movie-making. But the depth and irony of this Chaplin classic has seldom been equaled. Perhaps "A Woman of Paris" was overpraised. Chaplin himself is said to have become bored by the eulogies. There were a few critics who complained that the story was banal, the ending too moralistic. Chaplin himself once quipped to a critic, "How can you be sure Marie will stay on the farm more than an hour after the end of the film?" No doubt such famous "touches" as the train shadows were dictated by economy (it would have been expensive to reproduce a French train). Possibly some of the indirection and "restraint" in the emotional scenes may have been adaptations to the placid disposition of Miss Purviance. Sometimes the titles, despite their brev- ity, are too numerous for "pure" cinema. The film has not been revived since the twenties and might seem rather tame today. What was then new has long been absorbed into the general technique of pic- ture making; and what was then skating on thin ice is now accepted as a matter of course, morals and customs changing as they do. The long potato-sack dresses and coiffures of 1923 would in themselves date the film.