quiet_curiosity: (big eyes)
quiet_curiosity ([personal profile] quiet_curiosity) wrote2011-04-18 10:26 pm

Camille (1921)

Summary: Dumas' story is transposed to the Paris of the roaring 20s. Marguerite is still the tubercular belle of the party and Armand is still the lovelorn puppy who longs to save her. While they find happiness for a time, forces outside of their control threaten to tear their bond asunder.

Starring: Alla Nazimova, Rudolph Valentino, Rex Cherryman, Arthur Hoyt, Zeffie Tilbury, Patsy Ruth Miller, Elinor Oliver, William Orlamond, Consuelo Flowerton
Directed by: Ray C. Smallwood

Viewed Via: TCM/DVR
Current Commercial Availability: Camille (1937) (as an extra feature)(Warner Home Video R1)

1) This is my first film with Alla Nazimova (or NAZIMOVA - as she's credited in the film). I can't say that I loved her acting. At the same time, you can't take your eyes off of her when she's on screen. That may have been because of her frequent acts of mugging or her Bride of Frankenstein hair. At other moments her arch style fits. She's over the top at the party that opens the film but you get this hint of cynicism and loathing from her interactions with everyone. She fits this new scenerio.

2) Valentino is horrible. His tender love (from the beginning) looks so pathetic and unappealing and his bulged-eye rages (towards the end) are hardly compelling. Maybe he just seems like a pale under-emoter when around NAZIMOVA. Regardless, he is so annoying here. This film quickly(?) followed up The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It is such a step back for him.

3) Neither NAZIMOVA nor Valentino is helped by the fact that they have no romantic chemistry. None. I blame them both. Neither looks into it. Any active romance scenes between them are best described as limp. One of the few moments in which they almost look like a couple involves them not looking at each other.

4) What's really good about this film? THE SETS!! The sets, in particular Marguerite's apartment, are a marvel of Art Deco design. To some, they may scream out every Deco cliche, but they're so thoughtfully and thoroughly done that you can't help but marvel. The praise for these goes to Natacha Rambova, frequent NAZIMOVA collaborator and future Valentino wife.

5) The end of this version of Camille is famous because Armand does not return to Marguerite before she dies. NAZIMOVA didn't want to share her death moment with Valentino. Fair enough. It's still an experience. The creditors rummage through her apartment while she's on her death-bed and put price tags on objects, including her still-in-use bedspread. Like they're going to clear out the body and then have an estate sell! And then NAZIMOVA makes out with a pillow in her delirium. And then Marguerite's good friend and Armand's reformed friend visit post wedding(!) and are able to witness Marguerite call his name a few forlorn times before remembering happier times, declare herself ready to sleep, and turn to the side and die. I kind of loved this.

Don't go into this movie looking for romance. Don't go into this movie looking for classic performances. Check it out for the excellent design sensibility and the out-there end.

First Impressions Master List

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