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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Although the source of the movie is listed onscreen as "Life in the Latin Quarter," this is a rough translation of the actual French "Scènes de la vie de Bohème" by Henri Murger, which was serialized in "Le Corsair" in 1847-1849. See more »
To the landlord - may his wife have thirteen children - and not one of them French!
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In terms of playing the role, the art of opera is a whole lot like the silent film. To go with the words which will often be in a foreign language, you need to gesticulate to get the meaning across. Cecil B. DeMille realized that when he imported opera diva Geraldine Farrar to do a silent version of her acclaimed Carmen. Similarly the woman who specialized in playing innocents on the silent screen got one of her best roles as Mimi in the silent version of La Boheme.
Following up on The Big Parade, King Vidor directs his stars from that film in La Boheme. John Gilbert plays Rudolphe and Renee Adoree the saucy Musette. But the star of this film is Lillian Gish as the innocent and tragic Mimi. If you're familiar with the opera the plot of the film follows it faithfully.
Gilbert and Adoree live with a group of happy, but starving artists in a flat in Paris where getting the next meal or the next month's rent is an adventure. In fact in the beginning they are living in the flat for another month by dint of George Hassell's entertaining the street crowds with an organ and a monkey. And they can't eat the monkey because he might prove the most valuable breadwinner among them.
Into this world of artists comes sweet and innocent seamstress Lillian Gish. Of course she falls for Gilbert totally. But Gilbert only reciprocates her part way. He's about his art which in his case is writing. That's something Gish can't comprehend and leaves her vulnerable to the rakish Roy D'Arcy.
Edward Everett Horton has a small part in La Boheme. He's not the usual fuss budget that he was in talkies. Still I think most will recognize him.
The film belongs to Lillian Gish as the opera does to every soprano who essays the role from Mimi. It's only the end that Gilbert truly appreciates what he's had.
From the opera to the silent screen to talkies in the film Mimi that starred Gertrude Lawrence and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. to the modern updating of the story in Rent, La Boheme is a timeless tale and in this case brought to us by the timeless art of one Lillian Gish.
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