90 years ago today, A Woman Of Paris premiered at the Criterion Theater in Hollywood

“A Woman of Paris was a courageous step in the career of Charles Chaplin. After seventy films in which he himself had appeared in every scene, he now directed a picture in which he merely walked on for a few seconds as an unbilled and unrecognisable extra – a porter at a railroad station. Until this time, every film had been a comedy. A Woman of Paris was a romantic drama.” –David Robinson.

By 1923 Chaplin felt that his leading lady, Edna Purviance, was growing too mature for comedy. A Woman Of Paris, was his attempt to launch her on a new career as a dramatic actress. Although the film received positive critical reviews, it failed at the box office. Chaplin was so disappointed by the public’s rejection of his film that he removed it from circulation at the end of the 1920s–not to be seen again for nearly 50 years.

Edna attended the Los Angeles premiere and was given a “loud burst of appreciation” when she appeared on stage after the film.  She did not attend the New York premiere on Oct. 1st.

Edna Purviance, Nellie Bly Baker & Betty Morrissey.
  Baker was not an actress, but a secretary at the Chaplin Studios. Her scene-stealing performance in the film as a masseuse, led to more film roles during the 1920s. Betty Morrissey went on to appear in The Gold Rush & The Circus. She was subpoenaed for deposition during Lita Grey’s divorce from Chaplin because Lita was suspicious of her relationship with Charlie. (Photo: Chaplin: Genius Of The Cinema/Vance)

Edna Purviance and Adolphe Menjou. Although the film did not boost Edna’s career as Chaplin had hoped, it did launch Menjou’s. He was very impressed with Chaplin’s direction: “Within a few days I realized that I was going to learn more about acting from Chaplin than I had ever learned from any director.” Menjou recalled an unforgettable line that Chaplin always used when he thought the actors were hamming it up: “Don’t sell sell it! Remember, they’re peeking at you.” This bit of advice stuck with Menjou:  “Since then I have never played a scene before a camera without thinking to myself, “They’re peeking at you; don’t sock it.”
During a party in the Latin Quarter, the sheet around a “mannequin” is slowly unraveled.  I read somewhere that Bess Flowers, who played the mannequin, was really naked underneath the cloth.

Charlie directs Malvina Polo, who plays Paulette.
 I think it’s interesting that Chaplin had a character in one of his films named Paulette,
 nearly ten years before he met Paulette Goddard. 


  1. it's such a shame that this film didn't do well when it was released originally because it stopped chaplin from repeating the experiment of staying behind the camera.

  2. I agree. Perhaps he should have released it under a pseudonym. Although with Edna as the star, it wouldn't have been hard to guess who was behind it.

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