Tuesday, December 25, 2012

POLA NEGRI - A woman of the world

A Woman of the World (1925)

Well I tried but woefully fell short on the word count for Nanowrimo. Then finals. Then moving...omigosh christmas is tomorrow...

SO...what better time to review a movie that I saw at the end of summer?! Eh?!Eh!!!

 Thanks to FilmRadar,  I was able to attend a silent movie screening of "A Woman of the World" at Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills. Much gratitude to a very even-tempered boyfriend, we were made the loooooooooooong trek into the mountains to catch the movie. The windy roads and isolated areas were a little freaky at first but after we parked and walked up, it was worth it! Paramount Ranch is a restored and protected landmark of a western set that was owned by Paramount. This is the same location that Dr.Quinn Medicine Woman was filmed. In the few minutes we had before the screening, I had alot of fun darting around the sets taking pictures.If I ever had to do a Firefly photoshoot...

Anyhoo, the atmosphere was great for a silent movie.An old projector was used and everybody sat outside under the brilliant stars. Comfortable in out chairs and a fresh bag of popcorn, we settled in.

Before the movie, we were treated to a cartoon short of bees. Something about bees being in love. I was too busy munching on popcorn. It was so delicious...

"A Woman of the World" involves a heartbroken European Countess who decides to nurse her feelings at the small American home of her cousin. Her "flashy" attitude and ways spurns the attention and wrath of the District Attorney who makes it his personal mission to run her out of town.The more he interacts with the Countess, the more it becomes apparent that there are some passionate feelings hiding under his crusading facade.

I've only seen a couple of silent movies so I am  pretty ignorant of this era. So I was pleased as punch to find that I really loved this movie. There was some excellent comedy bits especially between the male cousin and the Countess. Typical miscommunication antics.

Even thought this was a product of the twenties, the themes are still strong today. No matter what decade, people will view visitors differently: with welcome, scorn, or happiness. It's how the movie handled sexuality that amused me. The Countess came from an environment of sexual freedom and power. The town is unsettled by her charismas but it's not until her TATTOO that it all comes to surface. Yes. Her smoking, makeup, dress caused raised eyebrows but oh holy smokes, the tattoo just confirmed it. She was a "woman of the world"! I guess the slimmest connection could be that she's a prostitute but I don't see any negative connotation of being a "woman of the world". I must be misunderstanding some cinematic slang. All I saw was just rampant jealousy. The Countess just oozed bad ass charm.

How bad ass was she? Angered by the actions of the DA, she grabs a WHIP and runs to hall where she WHIPS him in front of the board. A WHIP. Holy hell. I hated that they kissed right after that and the movie ended. I would have rather she threw the whip at his face then drove off in a shiny carriage or something. A good solid middle finger would have worked. Eh. I guess all the 1920s movies had to end on a good note.

I was fascinated by the actress who played the Countess. She was played by the famed femme fatale, Pola Negri (what a cool name...). With some digging, I found that Negri was freakin' famous.Mega famous. She was gorgeous and a great actress. She was loved in Europe and coveted in US. Long story short: she ran in high societal circles. Her last appearance was in the "The Moon-Spinners" (which I just added and shall watch soon).

Unfortunately this movie isn't available on DVD. I would suggest keeping an eye out for it at restorative theaters such as the Egyptian theater or Silent Movie theater or Silent Movie festivals.