A Woman of Paris (1923)

Romance | 26 September 1923

Director:

Charles Chaplin

Writer:

Charles Chaplin

Producer:

Charles Chaplin

Cinematographers:

Jack Wilson, Rollie Totheroh

Production Designer:

Arthur Stibolt

Production Company:

United Artists Corp.
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HISTORY

Principal photography began sometime in late Nov or early Dec 1922 under the working title, Destiny, as noted by various contemporary sources, including the 13 Jan 1923 Exhibitors Trade Review. By Feb 1923, the title had changed to Public Opinion. An article in the 3 Mar 1923 Motion Picture News credited Harry D’Arrast and Jean de Limur with advising director Charles Chaplin on French manners and customs relevant to the story, which is set entirely in France. One typically Parisian scene depicts a party attended by artists and bohemians, who watch in amusement as a young woman wrapped in a long strip of cloth is “unwound,” leaving her nude. The 7 Oct 1923 FD review remarked on the “daring” scene, but acknowledged that the nudity was merely suggested through clever direction and the reactions of the other characters. However, Ohio censors banned the finished film from their state. A 17 Nov 1923 Motion Picture News item reported that no reason was given for the decision.
       Contemporary trade journals followed production activities closely, as the picture marked Chaplin’s first “serious” film, and one in which he insisted he would not act. Perhaps to reassure skeptics of the significance of a Chaplin-made picture—even if it lacked his comedic presence—Chaplin promised that Public Opinion would be a “revolutionary” contribution to filmmaking. And ultimately, he did play a brief cameo role as a train station porter. However, the piece of luggage he carries obscures his face, rendering him almost unrecognizable.
       After more than five months of production in Los Angeles, CA, a 1 May 1923 FD news ... More Less

Principal photography began sometime in late Nov or early Dec 1922 under the working title, Destiny, as noted by various contemporary sources, including the 13 Jan 1923 Exhibitors Trade Review. By Feb 1923, the title had changed to Public Opinion. An article in the 3 Mar 1923 Motion Picture News credited Harry D’Arrast and Jean de Limur with advising director Charles Chaplin on French manners and customs relevant to the story, which is set entirely in France. One typically Parisian scene depicts a party attended by artists and bohemians, who watch in amusement as a young woman wrapped in a long strip of cloth is “unwound,” leaving her nude. The 7 Oct 1923 FD review remarked on the “daring” scene, but acknowledged that the nudity was merely suggested through clever direction and the reactions of the other characters. However, Ohio censors banned the finished film from their state. A 17 Nov 1923 Motion Picture News item reported that no reason was given for the decision.
       Contemporary trade journals followed production activities closely, as the picture marked Chaplin’s first “serious” film, and one in which he insisted he would not act. Perhaps to reassure skeptics of the significance of a Chaplin-made picture—even if it lacked his comedic presence—Chaplin promised that Public Opinion would be a “revolutionary” contribution to filmmaking. And ultimately, he did play a brief cameo role as a train station porter. However, the piece of luggage he carries obscures his face, rendering him almost unrecognizable.
       After more than five months of production in Los Angeles, CA, a 1 May 1923 FD news brief indicated that filming would continue for six more weeks. Although the 2 Jul 1923 FD noted that Chaplin had again changed the title, this time to Immortal Women, an article in the 4 Aug 1923 Moving Picture World stated that the film would be released as A Woman of Paris.
       A preview screening was held in Los Angeles in early Sep 1923, resulting in much praise for Chaplin’s methods as a storyteller and filmmaker. On 8 Sep 1923, Motion Picture News and Moving Picture World recounted the opinion of the LAT critic who attended the preview: In terms of photoplay production, Chaplin had not only “blazed a new trail, [he] paved a new boulevard.” Chaplin himself conceded that, “People who have not made a study of the technicalities of [filmmaking] … will probably not realize why they find this picture so refreshing. But those who study screenplays will find it packed with innovations.”
       A Woman of Paris received its world premiere on 26 Sep 1923 at the Criterion Theatre in Los Angeles, according to a 6 Oct 1923 Motion Picture News brief. The 27 Sep 1923 Var review indicated that the film would open at the Lyric Theatre in New York City on 1 Oct 1923. However, Motion Picture News suggested that the New York opening had been pushed back to 8 Oct 1923. Critical reception was uniformly positive, with reviews in the 13 Oct 1923 Motion Picture News and Exhibitors Trade Review describing the film as “a masterpiece of simplicity and naturalness,” “told in a new and distinctive screen form.” However, the 7 Oct 1923 FD review predicted that audiences expecting a “Chaplin comedy” were sure to be disappointed.
       At the time of production, various contemporary sources anticipated that the dramatic feature would be eight to ten reels in length. On release, reviews indicated various lengths between 7,200 and 7,600 feet, which would have amounted to seven reels. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Trade Review
13 Jan 1923
p. 358.
Exhibitors Trade Review
13 Oct 1923.
---
Film Daily
6 Mar 1923
p. 4.
Film Daily
1 May 1923.
---
Film Daily
2 Jul 1923
p. 3.
Film Daily
7 Oct 1923
p. 5.
Motion Picture News
3 Mar 1923.
---
Motion Picture News
8 Sep 1923.
---
Motion Picture News
6 Oct 1923.
---
Motion Picture News
13 Oct 1923.
---
Motion Picture News
17 Nov 1923.
---
Moving Picture World
4 Aug 1923
p. 414.
Moving Picture World
8 Sep 1923.
---
Variety
27 Sep 1923
p. 25.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Destiny
Immortal Women
Public Opinion
Release Date:
26 September 1923
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 26 September 1923
New York opening: 1 or 8 October 1923
Production Date:
December 1922--June 1923
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists
Copyright Date:
17 October 1923
Copyright Number:
LP19504
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Length(in feet):
7,200, 7,600
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Marie St. Clair, a French country girl, and her lover, Jean Millet, an art student, plan to elope to Paris when her father locks her out of the house and his parents object to Marie's presence in their home. Marie waits at the railway station while Jean returns home to collect his belongings. His father dies while he is there, and Marie, through a misunderstanding, goes to Paris alone. She becomes wealthy playboy Pierre Revel's mistress, and a year later she accidentally meets Jean, who has come to Paris with his mother to study art. Marie commissions the poor artist to paint her portrait, leading to a renewal of their love affair. She accepts his marriage proposal and decides to sever her relationship with Pierre, who has become engaged to a wealthy socialite; later Marie reneges, believing that Jean proposed in a weak moment. The next evening Jean follows Marie and Pierre to a cabaret, sees her for the last time, and commits suicide. Marie and Jean's mother go to the country to care for orphaned children. She never sees Pierre again, but they pass on the road--Pierre in an automobile; Marie riding a hay cart--and do not recognize each other. (This symbolic ending was apparently made for American audiences. In an alternative ending made for European audiences, Marie returns to Pierre after her fiancé's ... +


Marie St. Clair, a French country girl, and her lover, Jean Millet, an art student, plan to elope to Paris when her father locks her out of the house and his parents object to Marie's presence in their home. Marie waits at the railway station while Jean returns home to collect his belongings. His father dies while he is there, and Marie, through a misunderstanding, goes to Paris alone. She becomes wealthy playboy Pierre Revel's mistress, and a year later she accidentally meets Jean, who has come to Paris with his mother to study art. Marie commissions the poor artist to paint her portrait, leading to a renewal of their love affair. She accepts his marriage proposal and decides to sever her relationship with Pierre, who has become engaged to a wealthy socialite; later Marie reneges, believing that Jean proposed in a weak moment. The next evening Jean follows Marie and Pierre to a cabaret, sees her for the last time, and commits suicide. Marie and Jean's mother go to the country to care for orphaned children. She never sees Pierre again, but they pass on the road--Pierre in an automobile; Marie riding a hay cart--and do not recognize each other. (This symbolic ending was apparently made for American audiences. In an alternative ending made for European audiences, Marie returns to Pierre after her fiancé's suicide.) +

GENRE
Genre:


Subject

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.