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Film / A Woman of Paris

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A Woman of Paris is a 1923 film produced, written by, and directed by, but not starring Charlie Chaplin.

It instead stars Edna Purviance as Marie St. Clair, a woman in a rural French village who only wants to marry her sweetheart, Jean (Carl Miller). Both of their families oppose the marriage, things go wrong, and Marie leaves the little village, moving to Paris, where she becomes the kept woman of wealthy gentleman Pierre Revel (Adolph Menjou). A disillusioned Marie is content to live in the lap of luxury—until she meets Jean again.

This film was an unusual departure for Charlie Chaplin. It's a drama, and Chaplin doesn't appear in the film except for a brief cameo. A Woman of Paris was Chaplin's attempt to take Edna Purviance, who had been his leading lady in almost every film he made from 1915 to 1923, and get her started in a new career as a dramatic actress. The film did poorly at the box office, and Purviance retired from acting soon after. It did however boost the career of Adolph Menjou, who would be a star in Hollywood for decades. Critically, the film was highly regarded at the time, with the likes of Ernst Lubitsch and Michael Powell citing it as influences on their work.


  • Bittersweet Ending: Jean is dead, but Marie and Jean's mother have moved back to the country and opened an orphanage. The film ends with Marie and Pierre passing each other on the road without seeing each other.
  • Conflict Ball: It's not really clear why Marie and Jean's fathers are so violently opposed to them getting married.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Marie gets vague directions to a party. She goes to the wrong door—which turns out to be Jean's apartment.
  • Creator Cameo: Chaplin makes a very brief appearance as a careless railroad porter, about ten minutes in.
  • Driven to Suicide: Jean kills himself after he and Marie break up for good.
  • Elopement: Marie and Jean start off the film planning to do this, but it doesn't work out.
  • Follow That Car: Jean does this after Marie and Pierre go off to a fancy restaurant.
  • High-Class Glass: One of the women at the party pops one in to get a better look at the woman who's getting undressed.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Marie tells Pierre that she doesn't care about his money, and chucks a pearl necklace that he gave her out the window. When a bum picks the necklace up, she frantically races out the door and retrieves it, much to Pierre's amusement.
  • Lampshade Hanging: At a dramatic point of the movie, a text card tells us "This is not a comedy" (apparently a line said by one of the characters). This being a Chaplin production, it is a fair guess he had to state it somewhere.
  • Love Triangle: Marie, her rich Sugar Daddy, and her poor old boyfriend.
  • The Mistress: Marie is Pierre's kept woman. After he gets engaged to a rich lady, he wants to keep her around as his mistress, but she hesitates.
  • No Antagonist: There is no bad guy. Pierre would like to keep Marie around as a mistress but is perfectly happy to get another girlfriend if she wants to go off with Jean.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Jean's father dies the night that he and Marie are supposed to go away. Marie, at the train station, calls his house. Jean says "something terrible has happened", and then is called away from the phone. Marie, assuming that Jean has ditched her, goes off to Paris alone.
  • Starving Artist: Jean is forced to give Marie a napkin with a hole in it.
  • Sugar Daddy: Pierre. Unlike some examples of this trope Pierre is basically an affable sort, who likes keeping a sexy girlfriend on the side but bears Marie no ill-will when she wants to end the arrangement.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Where Marie keeps her handkerchief.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: At a typically debauched Parisian party, a woman steps onto a lazy Susan dressed in nothing but a long winding cloth. She is then unwrapped.