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Marie St. Clair believes she has been jilted by her artist fiance Jean when he fails to meet her at the railway station. She goes off to Paris alone. A year later, mistress of wealthy Pierre Revel, she meets Jean again. Misinterpreting events she bounces back and forth between apparent security and true love. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
If nothing else, you have to give Charlie Chaplin a lot of credit for taking a shot at something so different from his usual fare. (Though he himself only appears on-screen for a few seconds this time, he did almost everything else in the production.) And while "A Woman of Paris" is certainly a cut below his comedy features, it's a pretty good melodrama, and you'd have to think that with experience Chaplin could have gone on to become almost as effective with straight melodrama as he was with his sentimental comedies. It's not really surprising that after this he returned to comedy for good, but that was just to keep audiences happy, not because he couldn't do drama, since this is a decent effort.
Chaplin's own frequent lady Edna Purviance is convincing as the young woman whose tangled love affairs pull her away from her true love and into a set of tangled relationships in the empty, decadent world of the Parisian idle classes. Except for being rather contrived - there are far too many coincidences and pat developments in the plot, and they do not work as well in serious drama as they would in a comedy - the story is interesting and fairly creative. It does get a bit heavy at times, since there is very little comic relief, but Adolphe Menjou helps keep it from getting unbearably serious with a good performance as the carefree, irresponsible Pierre. He shows that even without dialogue he can make this kind of character lively and memorable.
Since it doesn't quite measure up to the standard of either the best Chaplin features or the best silent melodramas, "A Woman of Paris" may not have a niche of its own, except for its historical interest. But it's quite an interesting change of pace from Chaplin, and an above average movie that's worth seeing.
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