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George B. Seitz
Camille is a courtesan in Paris. She falls deeply in love with a young man of promise, Armand Duval. When Armand's father begs her not to ruin his hope of a career and position by marrying Armand, she acquiesces and leaves her lover. However, when poverty and terminal illness overwhelm her, Camille discovers that Armand has not lost his love for her. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
No new cinematic ground broken, but very watchable version of a classic story.
This "modernized" version of "La Dame aux Camellias" may not seem very modern to 21st century viewers, but compared to the original it must have been so for those of 1921. Direction and acting broke no new ground for the silent cinema art form, but it is very watchable. The longish story was cleverly condensed into 69 minutes with nothing essential left out. True, Armand does not arrive to witness Marguerite's death throes, but that was Nazimova's doing. She didn't want to risk any scene stealing by Valentino during her big moment. Alla Nazimova pulled out most of the stops, but she did have some poignant restrained scenes, especially the death scene when creditor representatives are tagging her furniture for an auction to pay her debts. There is a very touching interlude when these reps decide whether or not to tag Marguerite's copy of MANON LESCAUT which Armand had given her in a happier time. Valentino gives a very creditable and restrained performance throughout. Nazimova was wise to be wary of him! The sets are all "Avant Garde" in the extreme. They must have seemed so even to a 1921 audience, and look quite weird today. Direction and editing are taut, but the supporting cast tend to be on the hammy side. This, of course, was not unusual in the silent era, when without sound, gesture had to replace voice. Not great, but a good "old" movie to watch.
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