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Film / The Red Kimono

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Not appearing in this film: Satan, naked women.
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The Red Kimono is a 1925 film directed by Walter Lang and an uncredited Dorothy Davenport (aka "Mrs. Wallace Reid").

Priscilla Bonner stars as Gabrielle Darley, who as the film starts is already a sad prostitute in a sleazy New Orleans brothel. She treks to Los Angeles to find Howard Blaine, the man who abandoned her to her fate in said brothel. After he brusquely rejects her, she shoots him in the back. Gabrielle is acquitted of murder charges but afterwards is left alone and desperate, unable to find a job and re-integrate into everyday life.

The Red Kimono was a Ripped from the Headlines story of a real case that went so far as to use the real name of the woman involved—without her permission. The Real Life Gabrielle Darley sued producer Dorothy Davenport and won a large settlement.

The title of this film is misspelled as "The Red Kimona" in the opening credits, and it is sometimes referred to by that spelling, even though the correct spelling did appear in advertising.

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Tropes:

  • Amusement Park: Terrance the handsome chauffeur takes Gabrielle to an amusement park on a date.
  • As the Good Book Says...: The film ends with Davenport quoting Jesus's "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" line, as she urges understanding for fallen women.
  • Book-Ends: Davenport addresses the camera about the problem of fallen women at the beginning of the movie and again at the end.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Davenport's two addresses to fallen women, delivered straight to the camera.
  • Broken Bird: Poor Gabrielle. Kicked out of an unloving home. Forced into prostitution by the man she thought loved her and wanted to marry her. Beats a murder rap, but finds herself alone and helpless, unable to get a job due to her lack of references. Finally winds up going back to the brothel after she can't find an honest job.
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  • Color Motif: Red symbolizes sin and prostitution. Things colored red in this otherwise black-and-white movie include the eponymous red kimono, the red streetlights of the Red Light District, and the scarlet "A" that the hospital director visualizes on Gabrielle.
  • Deus ex Machina: Gabrielle is about to re-enter her brothel and go back to being a hooker, when she's assaulted by a man on the street. She runs away from him, and is hit by a car. But that turns out to be OK in the end, as her trip to the hospital ends with her getting the nursing job she desperately wanted.
  • Extra! Extra! Read All About It!: A paper boy announces that soldiers stationed in New Orleans are getting called to the front in France immediately.
  • Good Costume Switch: Gabrielle casts her red kimono aside after getting sprung from prison, saying she doesn't want to go back to her old life.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: Gabrielle really should have been tipped off by the weaselly pencil mustache worn by Howard, which marked him off as Obviously Evil.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: At the end of the movie, the hospital where Gabrielle works is filling up with cases of Spanish flu.
  • How We Got Here: The film opens with Gabrielle already a prostitute in a brothel. A long flashback illustrates how she was seduced and hoodwinked by Howard.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Howard expires immediately after being shot.
  • In the Back: Where Howard is shot by a vengeful Gabrielle after he rejects her and turns away.
  • Kimono Fanservice: The red kimono is the outfit Gabrielle wears while servicing customers. In an otherwise black-and-white film, the kimono is actually hand-tinted red. When Gabrielle is packing her things after leaving prison, she casts her kimono aside, signaling her rejection of her old life.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Gabrielle comes back to her senses and reacts this way after shooting Howard in a fit of rage.
  • Nice Hat: Mrs. Fontaine wears a ridiculous huge hat with giant feathers when she first appears, at Gabrielle's trial. This marks her out as a person who is after publicity and does not really care about the fallen women she's supposedly helping.
  • No Romantic Resolution: Terrance finally finds Gabrielle in the hospital, right before he's about to ship out for France. He asks her to marry him, but she tells him to wait, saying that she has to have time to earn her happiness.
  • Race for Your Love: Terrance desperately races to stop Gabrielle when he hears she's getting on the train back to New Orleans, then, after missing the train, he takes the next one to New Orleans to catch her. He misses her when she's hit by a car.
  • Red Light District: The neighborhood where Gabrielle's brothel is located. It is bad enough that even when she isn't working, Gabrielle is assaulted by brutish men on the streets. The streetlight is actually colored red.
  • Rich Bitch: Mrs. Fontaine acts like a philanthropist who gives aid to fallen women but really she is this. She parades Gabrielle in front of her snooty society friends like a trained seal. When she gets tired of Gabrielle she throws her out, as she has all the other fallen women who've stayed with her. Mrs. Fontaine is also rude to the help and generally mean.
  • Servile Snarker: Terrance has nothing but contempt for Mrs. Fontaine, his Rich Bitch boss, continually calling her "the Queen" or "the Duchess."
  • Shout-Out: When Gabrielle is applying for a trainee nurse position at a hospital, the director realizes who she is, and visualizes a scarlet "A" on her chest. He turns her down.
  • Splash of Color: Red is the color of sin and prostitution. Things hand-colored red in this otherwise black-and-white movie: 1) the eponymous red kimono, 2) the red streetlights in the Red Light District, and the scarlet A that the hospital director visualizes on Gabrielle's chest.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Where Gabrielle keeps the makeup pad that she freshens up with before meeting a client.
  • Woman Scorned: After Howard rejects Gabrielle, she shoots him in the back. She had tracked him to a jewelry store, and the last straw was him buying a wedding ring for someone else with the money she earned by hooking.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Gabrielle's clients, apparently. She has visible bruises on her arm.
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