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Silent Era Films on Home Video
Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2014 by Carl Bennett
and the Silent Era Company.
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A Woman
of Paris

(1923)
 

Intended as a launching vehicle for his longtime costar Edna Purviance, A Woman of Paris (1923) is surprisingly good as drama but perhaps suited Charles Chaplin’s melodramatic storytelling temperament more so than Edna’s acting abilities. It is the only film that Chaplin directed that he did not appear in (apart from his deliberately disguised walk-on as a railway porter). The film was unsuccessful in establishing Purviance as a film star independent of Chaplin.

Adolphe Menjou turns in the best performance in A Woman of Paris as Pierre Revel, a rich devil-may-care Parisian playboy. And one can readily see why Menjou was a popular character actor, known for his debonair cads. His character in A Woman of Paris is not so much a villain as is a man simply untouched by the lives of those around him. Revel lives an oblivious existence whose gravity pulls people into his ego-centric orbit until they are expelled away, all unnoticed by Revel. Jean Millet portrays the artist from Marie’s home village, the one she was to have run away with. They later meet in Paris, where she is Revel’s kept woman. Jean has been commissioned to paint Marie St. Clair’s portait. But he paints her as he knew her in the small village. The portrait stirs old feelings in the jaded Marie and she is faced with an unanticipated question. Marriage or luxury?

We love Edna Purviance and cherish her appearance in this film. But we must also be realistic about how her performance compares to those of other actors in the great silent era films. Edna has trouble commanding the film audience’s attention as Marie, sometimes struggling to keep the viewer interested in her performance rather than in the set dressings or the supporting actors. It would be the last released film she would do with Chaplin, and the last that many American film audiences would see of her. — Carl Bennett

2004 Warner Home Video DVD edition

A Woman of Paris (1923), black & white, 78 minutes total, not rated,
with A King in New York (1957), black & white, 100 minutes, Rated G, and Camille (1926), black & white, 33 minutes, not rated.

Warner Home Video, 37653, UPC 0-85393-76532-3, ISBN 0-7907-7170-5.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, two single-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 1, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and mono sound, English language intertitles (A Woman of Paris and Camille only), English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Thai and Korean language subtitles, chapter stops, cardboard wrap with plastic DVD tray in cardboard slipcase, $29.95.
DVD release date: 2 March 2004.
Country of origin: USA

This new Chaplin estate authorized edition utilizes the newly-restored digital masters that were created from the original Chaplin 1970s rerelease 35mm negative.

However, we have had problems with the disc displaying properly to a 16:9 high-definition television when played from one of our DVD players. The picture fills the 16:9 monitor in width (already wrong for a 4:3 format picture) and crops the top and bottom of the picture to do so. No amount of manipulation of the picture settings ideally resolves the issue.

Supplementary section includes Ralph Barton’s Camille (1926), footage deleted from the 1970s reissue version, a documentary, a stills gallery, and A King in New York (1957).

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2000 Image Entertainment DVD edition

A Woman of Paris (1923), black & white, 90 minutes total, not rated,
with A King in New York (1957), black & white, 109 minutes, Rated G.

CBS/Fox Home Video, distributed by Image Entertainment, ID9186CUDVD, UPC 0-14381-91862-5.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 1, 4.5 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 1.0 mono sound, English language intertitles (A Woman of Paris only), no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, snapper DVD case, $29.99.
DVD release date: 16 May 2000.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 9 / audio: 7 / additional content: 7 / overall: 7.

This DVD edition apparently utilizes the same video transfers that were released on laserdisc in 1993. As in other Chaplin films of the CBS/Fox series which draw from the prints and negatives held in the Chaplin archives, A Woman of Paris is nearly flawless. Some very light speckling and dust, minor processing inconsistencies, and almost imperceptible scuffing mar the otherwise immaculate fine grain print, probably from the negative prepared for Chaplin’s 1977 reissue of the film. This edition is supposed to feature restored footage but, without a comprehensive A-B comparison of the videotape edition from CBS/Fox and this DVD edition, none stands out as previously unseen shots or scenes.

The lush accompanying music is at times a little brighter than appropriate to the story, but considering it was composed by Chaplin I think it best to assume that he knew the mood he wanted to convey for each scene. The music score is always unmistakably Chaplin. The DVD’s 1.0 Dolby Digital mono sound well-reproduces the original mono recording, but some short sections of the score are repeated to lengthen their matching the footage length, and the editing is annoyingly without grace. Blame video edition producer David Shepard, not the reissue print.

A King in New York (1957) has some added footage from a lesser quality 35mm print to bring this home video edition closer to the film’s original release continuity. The majority of the film has been transferred from a nearly pristene 35mm print. In an interview, David Shepard implied that this extra footage would be removed and the film rereleased on home video by the Chaplin estate. If the extra footage is of importance to you as a collector, this DVD should be acquired in a used copy since it is now out-of-print.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Other silent era CHARLES CHAPLIN films available on home video.

Other silent era ADOLPHE MENJOU films available on home video.

Edna Purviance filmography in The Progressive Silent Film List

Charles Chaplin filmography in The Progressive Silent Film List

 
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