'Venus of Venice' (great title!) is a slick caper comedy, briskly directed by Marshall 'Mickey' Neilan at the peak of his powers. The characters are implausible -- and 'Venice' is clearly a studio set -- but this movie takes place in the same tinselled sham-glam world as Lubitsch's 'Trouble in Paradise', a film with a plot and premise very similar to this one.
Constance Talmadge stars as Carlotta, a Venetian petty thief who's known to the constabulary as 'the Water Rat'. She works with an older partner, Marco, who pretends to be a blind beggar. After they rob a wealthy victim, Carlotta makes her getaway by diving into the nearest canal ... hence her nickname. This being Venice, there's no shortage of canals.
SPOILERS COMING. This is one of those movies where our sympathies are supposed to be with the crook. All goes well for Carlotta until she crosses paths with Kenneth Wilson, an American. (Played by Antonio Moreno, whose Spanish accent was no liability in this silent film.) Wilson is a painter, and this movie takes place in the fantasy realm where handsome sensitive artists always have plenty of spending money. Carlotta sets her sights on robbing Wilson, so she pretends to be attracted to him. But then she actually *does* fall for him, and is dismayed when he spurns her. But then, eventually ... guess what.
There are no surprises in the plot, but this film is stylish and snappy. I had difficulty believing that this movie's art director had ever been to Venice, but the fake Venice depicted in this film is attractive in its own right. I'll rate this sparkling movie 8 out of 10.
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