Monday, March 7, 2011
“Her Sister from Paris” (1925)
“Her Sister from Paris” (1925) is a silent romantic comedy starring Constance Talmadge, Ronald Colman and George K. Arthur. Directed by Sidney Franklin, this film allowed Constance Talmadge to demonstrate her comic range in dual roles.
The story begins with an Austrian couple, Joseph Weyringer, played by Ronald Colman, and his wife, Helen, played by Constance Talmadge, having serious problems in their relationship. Helen feels that her husband doesn’t appreciate her. Upset with how the two keep arguing, Helen tells Joseph that she will be staying with her mother and leaves their home. Joseph’s friend, Robert, played by George K. Arthur, encourages him to have some fun while Helen is away. When both men discover a photo of Helen’s twin sister, they are both shocked that she is a professional dancer living in Paris and will be performing in Vienna. Joseph points out to Robert that Helen’s twin sister, who is also known as Madame La Perry, is quite attractive and both men decide to have fun by watching La Perry perform live. Meanwhile, Helen goes to see her sister in her dressing room and tells her about her marital problems. La Perry thinks her sister needs to get away from her old fashioned style and gives her a bobbed haircut. After La Perry’s performance, Helen is happy about how the audience supported her sister. However, she is upset to see Joseph in the audience having fun so soon after leaving him. Back in the dressing room, Helen is reduced to tears and believes that Joseph is no longer interested in her. La Perry comes up with an idea to teach Joseph a lesson by having Helen pretend to be her twin sister. Helen immediately starts playing the part of her twin sister. Will Helen find out if her husband loves her or La Perry?
“Her Sister from Paris” (1925) reunited Constance Talmadge with the “Her Night of Romance” (1924) team: Hans Kraly wrote the story, Sidney Franklin directed and Ronald Colman costarred. The plot is not unfamiliar; it was made in 1934 as “Moulin Rouge” with Constance Bennett and in 1941 as “Two-Faced Woman” with Greta Garbo. Even though it might seem a predictable and not very original film, “Her Sister from Paris” is a delightful comedy. Constance’s acting abilities come through in many scenes especially when she is trying to seduce Colman. Constance and Colman give top-notch performances and they have great onscreen chemistry. I thought the gowns and lingerie designed by Adrian very early in his career were absolutely gorgeous. Even though the film suffers from nitrate decompositon in some scenes, it is still a joy to watch. Constance was clearly a natural comedienne, and it’s a shame that so many of her films have been lost and so few are available on DVD.
Born on April 19, 1898, in Brooklyn, New York, Constance Talmadge was one of Hollywood’s most popular comediennes. She achieved film immortality as the Mountain Girl of ancient Babylon in D.W. Griffith’s “Intolerance” (1916). Her older sister, Norma Talmadge, had become a star several years before her as a dramatic actress, while Constance’s specialty was sharp, witty comedies. When Norma married producer Joseph Schenck, it proved to be beneficial to both sisters. Schenck and Lewis J. Selznick bought up Constance’s contract and distributed her films through Select, First National, and United Artists for the rest of her career. With the coming of sound, the First National agreement was terminated in 1927. She made one last silent film, “Venus” (1929) for United Artists release and happily retired. Constance made a total of 84 films from 1914 to 1929. Constance died of pneumonia on November 23, 1973. She was 75 years old.