Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A Woman of Paris
A Woman of Paris is a feature film that debuted in 1923. The film was written, directed, produced and scored by Charlie Chaplin. Several things set this film apart from Chaplin's other work. The first, most obvious, is that he does not appear in the film, at least not in his traditional role of the tramp. He has a brief cameo as a porter in a trainstation. This role was supposed to be inconspicous and he is not even listed in the credits for it. Most people seeing the film will not realize that it is actually Chaplin there; this was intended. The other major difference between this and most of Chaplin's other work is that the film is supposed to be a serious drama. There is no slapstick comedy.
Edna Purviance plays the lead as Marie St. Clair. Chaplin had several reasons for producing this film, and one these reasons was to help Purviance gain recognition as an actress without Chaplin at her side. Another was because he wanted to try staying behind the camera. Despite this attempt, Edna Purviance was never able to achieve the level of success that she had in films with Chaplin's Tramp at her side. However, the film did help Adolphe Menjou gain some recognition.
The public did not receive this film very well. Chaplin was very popular at this time, and many went to this film expecting to see Chaplin in his traditional role. There were two efforts made to help "ease" the public into the idea of Chaplin doing a film without Chaplin in it. On the night the film premiered, Chaplin had flyers given to those in line. The flyers essentially state that this is a deviation from his normal work, and that he hopes the public will find these deviations enjoyable. The film also contains a message at the beginng stating that Chaplin will not be appearing in the film. Some film historians have speculated about what the public's reaction would have been if they did not know A Woman of Paris may have been received much differently. This, of course, will never be known.
Critics actually liked the film, and still do to a large extent. They see a maturation in Chaplin's themese (the film has several adult themes in it). Some consider it to be the first true Chaplin feature. The reason for this being that it is the first feature done under the company he co-founded United Artists.
The film is still available today.
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