|A FOOL THERE WAS (director: Frank Powell; screenwriters: Porter Emerson Browne/from the Rudyard Kipling poem The Vampire; cinematographer: Roy L. McCardell; cast: Theda Bara (The Vampire), Edward Jose (John Schuyler, The Husband), Runa Hodges (The Child), Mabel Frenyear (Kate, The Wife), May Allison (The Wife's Sister), Clifford Bruce (The Friend), Victor Benoit (One of Her Victims), Frank Powell (The Doctor), Minna Gale (The Doctor's Fiancee); Runtime: 67; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Frank Powell; Alpha Home Entertainment; 1915-silent)|
fashioned drama is creaky and if judged just
in modern terms, it doesn't pass the giggle
by Dennis Schwartz
Powell ("The Forfeit"/"You Never Know
Your Luck"/"The Unbroken Promise") directs this
overwrought moralist drama inspired by the Rudyard Kipling
poem The Vampire and based on the Broadway play from
1909. It was adapted to the screen by Porter Emerson
Browne. It stars the unknown Jewish
actress from Cincinnati
Goodman, who took the stage name
Theda Bara--an anagram supposedly for Arab death, as
spread by her publicist, and became known as
Hollywood's first sex goddess.
The film was
popular during its day, as there's no accounting for
the public's taste then and now. The old fashioned
drama is creaky and if judged just in modern terms,
it doesn't pass the giggle test.
Wealthy Larchmont, NY, lawyer, John Schuyler (Edward Jose), upon the president's request serves as his special envoy in England to settle a diplomatic dispute, but his wife Kate (Mabel Frenyear) informs him she cannot sail with him and leave for a month her ailing sister (May Allison) alone and she also keeps behind their young daughter (Runa Hodges). On the ship the family man lawyer is seduced by a sociopath known as the Vampire (Theda Bara), and ends up her sex slave in Italy two months later. Schuyler is spotted by his hometown doctor (Frank Powell, director) in a hotel in Italy, and when a gossip columnist blabs, he returns home a crushed man with much of his wealth stolen and the life sucked out of him by the Vampire. The once brilliant lawyer is now on an uncontrollable downward spiral, self-destructing without a means of halting his decline and his wife has him over a barrel. In the last scene, Bara vindictively crumbles rose petals over the body of her vic, and confidentially goes on to meet the next man vic.
The fool in the title is supposedly the husband, but a case could be made that it's the wife. The rigid Victorian wife maybe couldn't keep hubby happy at home and when he met a modern-day exotic looking liberated woman couldn't resist some hanky-panky. No matter, this relic left me feeling cold.
interested in the Kipling poem The Vampire:
REVIEWED ON 6/14/2014 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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