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La Bohème (1926)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 13 March 1926 (USA)
A group of starving artists try to survive in 1830s Paris, including a seamstress and the would-be playwright she loves.



(screen play), (suggested by "Life in the Latin Quarter" by) (as Henry Murger) | 4 more credits »

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Complete credited cast:
George Hassell ...
Mathilde Comont ...
Madame Benoit (as Matilde Comont)
Eugene Pouyet ...
Bernard (as Gene Pouyet)
Frank Currier ...
Theatre Manager
David Mir ...
Catherine Vidor ...
Valentina Zimina ...


It is 1830 in Paris and the rent is due, but the money is not there. An article here, a painting there and a monkey with a cup gives them enough money for the rent, but not for food. Fortunately, Musette from downstairs has enough food for everyone including Mimi - the poor little waif from next door who Rodolphe has met. But Count Paul also has his lusting eye on Mimi and uses her embroidery to get close to her. Rodolphe and Mimi fall in love and Mimi works endlessly to support Rodolphe who is writing his play with a new found passion. He does not know that he has been discharged from writing for 'Dog and Cat Fanciers'. Mimi wants to get his play produced and Count Paul offers to help, but there is a terrible fight when Rodolphe thinks that Mimi is faithless to him with Count Paul. After the fight, he seeks out a doctor as she is sick, but she has left when Rodolphe returns and will stay away until his play is finished. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

artist | waif | sewing | playwright | note | See All (28) »


Drama | Romance





Release Date:

13 March 1926 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La Boheme  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Star Lillian Gish and costume designer Erté had run-ins over the design of her costumes. She refused to wear a corset he designed and insisted on silk rather than cotton. The designer's refusal to work within Gish's demands are considered to be one reason why his career as a designer in Hollywood did not last long. See more »


Rodolphe: You wanted to be alone with that fop!
See more »


Version of La Vie de Bohème (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

"To work for love"
16 May 2011 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

Stories like this have a certain kind of timelessness and familiarity to them, because they are based around characters and situations which recur again and again in art and literature. And in the case of La Boheme, it is a central concept which has particular resonance for the passionately creative amongst us. For here we meet the romantic archetype of the artists who will die for their art – writers, painters and musicians, lovers and libertines all, starving in the garrets of 19th century Paris. The story comes from the 1896 Puccini opera, but elements of it crop up as recently as the 2001 movie Moulin Rouge! During this era, there wasn't really anyone better suited to playing the female lead than Lillian Gish, and perhaps there never has been. Tender, mysterious, as light and ethereal as a strip of gauze, she was in every way the tragic heroine. At her best when she played it subtle, her performance in La Boheme is wonderfully subdued. So much lies in the tiniest flicker of her face, such as that little curl of her lip when she gets her first glimpse of John Gilbert. Gilbert is not nearly as fine an actor as his leading lady, but he is again very much the right type for his part – an idealist with intelligent eyes and a warm smile. Other faces to look out for here are the very entertaining French actress Renée Adorée, and a rare glimpse of a silent-era Edward Everett Horton, although sadly before his comic talent was fully realised.

The director is King Vidor, himself a man with a burningly artistic approach to his medium, albeit one grounded enough in reality and focused enough in thought to make him a good professional. His shot composition shows a neat use of space, and confident handling of rhythm. But what really makes Vidor stand out is the smooth way he makes shots that little bit special. Take for example the scene in which Vicomte Paul first lays eyes on Gish. We get a travelling point-of-view shot as he watches one young woman walking alongside his carriage. The carriage then stops, the woman carries on walking to reveal Gish heading straight towards the camera. We then cut in to a close-up of her face. The moment jolts itself into our consciousness, and because the movement of the camera and the two women is logical, it draws us further into the film's world, rather than exposing the artifice of the medium. King Vidor was one of the best directors who ever lived, because he successfully bridged the gap between the stylish and the realistic.

The resultant picture is a good work of classic romantic tragedy, and ultimately one that relates more to fantasy and mythology than to any real world situation. Poverty and injustice play their parts in La Boheme, but they are presented in almost noble terms, like some depiction of suffering in a religious painting. Compare this to poverty-themed pictures made just a few years later during the depression, which were earthy, honest and very close to home. La Boheme on the other hand is more the agonising, bittersweet fairytale. And there is no shame in this – it is simply a part of the idealism of the 1920s and of silent cinema, a naïve but beautiful way of thinking that was very soon to vanish with the changing times.

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