Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • TBC
  • 1923
  • 84 mins

A Woman Of Paris

A Woman Of Paris

Synopsis

Chaplin's story of doomed love is a self-proclaimed drama of fate, and a groundbreaking example of cinematic storytelling

About

A Woman Of Paris begins with a title card bearing a message from Chaplin to the audience: "In order to prevent any misunderstanding," it reads, "I do not appear in this picture. This is the first serious drama written and directed by myself." Such a frank break with the vaudeville comedy tradition of Chaplin's previous work must have seemed disappointing at the time, yet acquaintance with this self-styled "drama of fate" proves that the absence of Chaplin in front of the camera is not as disastrous as many might have feared.

Starring one of Chaplin's favourite actresses, Edna Purviance (she appeared in over 20 of his films as a leading lady) as Marie St Clair, a young French woman who flees to Paris and becomes part of the city's rowdy high society after her hopes of married happiness with Jean (Miller) are dashed by fate, A Woman Of Paris is a heart-wrenching drama of lost love and lost virtue.

Yet what's most striking about the film is not so much its central plot - abandoned by Jean, Marie becomes the wanton mistresses of Adolphe Menju's louche lothario before discovering that her true love has moved to Paris - but the vibrant patchwork of urban decadence that Chaplin weaves around it through a wealth of incidental details. Magnificent scenes include a rowdy Latin Quarter party where a risqué striptease reduces the room to chaos, a brief interlude in a restaurant kitchen where Menju's gourmet hobnobs with the chef; and a scene where one of Marie's friends relates the latest gossip while the camera focuses on Marie's masseuse who's clandestinely listening in. Pushing the limits of this one-note melodrama to break new ground, Chaplin discovers that cinema's power can sometimes lie not in the central action, but in the marginal details.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Charles K French, Adolphe Menjou, Edna Purviance, Clarence Geldart, Lydia Knott, Carl Miller
  • Director: Charles Chaplin
  • Writer: Charles Chaplin
  • Producer: Charles Chaplin
  • Photographer: Roland Totheroh
  • Composer: Charles Chaplin

In a nutshell

An important milestone in Chaplin's career, this simple melodrama overcomes the limits of its story to offer a fascinating example of the writer-director's understanding of the constraints of cinematic form.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

    Lily Collins stars in Harald Zwart's fantasy action-adventure, based on the first novel in Cassandra Clare's bestselling series for young adults.

  • Film4

    The Rise

    Luke Treadaway, Neil Maskell and Timothy Spall star in this Leeds-set heist caper, the debut feature from writer-director Rowan Athale.

  • Film4

    This Is 40 on Film4

    (2012) 124 mins 15 Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann star in writer-director-producer Judd Apatow's relationship comedy-drama, a 'sort of sequel' to his second hit feature, Knocked Up.

  • Film4

    The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones on Film4

    The first installment from Cassandra Clare's bestselling YA franchise starring Lily Collins.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Channel 4 announces major increase to Film4 funding

    Film4 funding has increased to a record £25m in 2016, with major new deals announced with Fox Searchlight and FP Films. Film4 will be backing new work from Lenny Abrahamson, Yorgos Lanthimos, Andrew H

  • Channel 4 Blog

    The 36th London Film Critics Circle Awards

    The Film4-backed 45 Years takes Best Actor, Best Actress and Best British Film at the 36th London Critics' Circle Film Awards Other prizes for Film4-backed films included Breakthrough Filmmaker for d

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share