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A WOMAN OF PARIS

USA, 1923 (MIFF 1978, American Silent Classics)

Director: Charles Chaplin

A Woman of Paris, the first serious drama by Charlie Chaplin, has not been available for general audiences since the late 1920s. The film was made in 1923, written and directed by Chaplin, and quickly became a major influence on other film-makers, including Sergei Eisenstein, René Clair and Ernst Lubitch. Chaplin spent over $800,000 on the film, a colossal amount for those days, often retaking scenes from fifty to two hundred times.

In 1976 Chaplin composed a new musical score for his classic film, and new prints were made from the original negative. Marie St Clair lives in a small town and meets secretly with her fiancée Jean, who is an art student. Her father disapproves of her relationship and locks her out of the house. Jean and Marie decide to go to Paris, they meet at the station, but when Jean returns home to take some money, he finds his father has fallen ill and he cannot leave.

He telephones Marie, she misinterprets his message and travels to Paris alone, believing Jean has abandoned her In Paris, she becomes the mistress of Pierre, a Parisian aristocrat. A year later, one evening, Marie meets Jean who has moved to Paris after the death of his father. They begin seeing each other regularly, and Jean wants to marry her. Marie decides to leave Pierre. But she overhears a conversation between Jean and his mother which leads her to suspect that once again, Jean has changed his mind. She returns to Pierre, with tragic result.

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