Greta Garbo and Victor Sjostrom

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Remade by Greta Garbo: Camille

Studio manager of Rasunda was relegated to Vilhelm Bryde during 1923. Author Forsyth Hardy Gaines an account, "His influence was most clearly seen in 'Damen med Kamelioarna', a static, theatrical adaptation of the Camille theme, directed by Olof Molander. The film derived some distinction from the delicately composed interiors...a reversion to a theatrical style of filmmaking quite foreign to the Sjostrom-Stiller."

For those familiar with the history of Danish Silent Film Lady of the Camellias, (Kameliadamen, Camille) adapted from the novel by Dumas, was filmed by Viggo Larsen, who starred in front of the camera as well as creating from behind it, as he was often won't to do, the film also starring Oda Alstrup, Robert Storm Petersen and Helga Tonnesen. It was produced by Nordisk Film and Ole Olsen and it's cinematographer was Axel Graatkjaer Sorensen.

The Divine Bernhardt that was immortalized as a model for Alphonse Mucha exists, the plays that Louis Mercanton adapted for the screen, Jeanne Dore (1915, three reels), starring Madame Tissot with actress Sarah Bernhardt and shown in the United States by Bluebird Photoplays, and Adrienne Lecouvveur (1913, two/three reels), do not, and belong to the province of Film Preservation, if not Lost Films, Found Magazines, a vital part of From Stage to Screen, the transition of the proscenium arc to visual planes achieved by film editing and composition having been relegated to desuetude. By all accounts there still is a copy of Sarah Bernhardt performing Camille on film.

Camille (J. Gordon Edwards, 1917, five reels) starring Theda Bara is, like The Divine Woman (Victor Seastrom), a lost silent film, there being no surviving copies of it. Motography not I coincidentally revealed, "Theda Bara in a sumptuous picturization of Camille is the latest announcement of William Fox to the public...Theda Bara as the unhappy Parisian girl who sacrifices herself on the altar of convention, has surpassed all her previous work. This production...Parisian life is followed in every detail so that the atmosphere of the story fits admirably with the acting in it." Surepetitiously, Motion Picture News used the exact same wording, it concluding with, The tears it caused were genuine and the emotions it stirred were deep." J. Gordon Edwars directed Theda Bara in several films for the Fox Film Corporation during 1917 which are now lost, with no surviving copies, including the films "Cleopatra" (ten reels), "Heart and Soul" (five reels), "Her Greatest Lobe" (five reels) and "The Rose Blood" (six reels), as well as the lost films "Under the Yoke" (five reels), "When a Woman Sins" (seven reels) and "The Forbidden Path" from 1918.

Most significant may be that the script to Poor Violetta (Arme Violetta, 1920) was written by Hans Kraly, who later emigrated to Hollywood; directed by Paul L. Stein, it was released by Paramount as The Red Peacock, with the alternate title Camille, purportedly only loosely an adaptation of the novel by Dumas. The film is thought to be lost, with no surviving copies.  in her autobiography Memories of a Star, actress Pola Negri describes filming in Europe, "Even before Hemmingway and Fitzgerald made The Lost Generation internationally famous, it was a city intent on losing itself. Jazz was beginning to become a rage in all the little chic clubs.... When production began on Camille, I was ready for it. Nightlife had served its purpose. The mixture of wild gaiety and sense of loss which had been so much part of the last few weeks gave me fresh insights into the character I was to portray. Certainly, the doomed tubercular Marguerite Gautier would not have felt out of place in Berlin at the dawn of the twenties. My sojourn among those people who lived on the opposite side of the clock had been a useful and pleasant interlude, but it was now over." Negri, who would leave for Warsaw after filming Camille had been writing about a city that would soon embrace Expressionism and where Asta Nielsen that year had been filming an adaption of Hamlet as a Silent Film.
In the United States The Film Daily during 1922 reviewed the film by claiming it had "No Visible Drawing Power in this Except for Sensation".  While giving a brief synopsis it wrote, "as for the story, it is certain to offend the decency of some and practically everyone with any sense of refinement. There isn't anything very tasteful or entertaining in this depiction of a series of liaisons even though you can hardly blame the girl for running away from her drunken step father...Another matter which you will do well to consider in connection with this picture is the type of patron you cater to." Their sentiment was echoed by Exhibitor's Herald magazine, who saw Pola Ngeri in the film as depicting a woman who was " that of the tennis-ball tossed lightly from one gentleman's racquet to another" to which it appended, " This is made abroad and their standards are not ours."

Using a still where the two lovers were in embrace on a couch, reminiscent of John Gilbert and Greta Garboin Flesh and the Devil, captioned with "Armand pours out his love to the adored Camille, Picture Play magazine during 1927 introduced the nine reel film starring Norma Talmadge and Gilbert Roland as "the latest screen version of the Dumas' masterpiece." MPotion Picture magazine noted that it was a film in which Norma Talmadge would wear her hair bobbed, the studio having reported to the magazine that it would be an adaptation located in the then present day Paris of Gerturde Stien, Fitzgerald and Hemmingway and that the cast of the film would also include Lilyan Tashman. Photoplay reviewed the film with,"Norma Talmadge shifted the background to the present day. This change seems to have affected the story itself but slightly. 'Camille has one fault. it is too long...Rather actory but worth IT. Super-sexy stuff this." Amateur Movie Makers magazine looked at Niblo's camerawork during 1927, noting that the film as having a Titleless Start. "Eliminating the usual series of opening titles, 'Camille' opens with a series of swift dissolves which move from the general to the specific, from a shot down to a mass of moving umbrellas, to a salient bit of portraiture of the auctioneer hawking Camille's effects."

The 1915 screen version of Camille was scripted by Frances Marion. the five reel film starred Clara Kimbal Young under the direction of Albert Cappellani. There is thought to be a lost film from 1912 starring actress Gertrude Shipman that was based on Dumas' work possibly one reel in legnth.

Greta Garbo John Gilbert

Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo in Love

Greta Garbo photographed

Greta Garbo

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