Tuesday, March 30, 2021

New Year, New Movie: A Fool There Was (1915)

March has marched on by me. It's been a rough month. Enough said. I'm ready to throw myself back into the movies. While I haven't been able to watch movies this month, it did not stop me from acquiring more of them. That's what happens when multiple sales provide the opportunity, and a desire to find a pleasurable escape creates a motive. Tonight's feature was the result of Kino's March Madness sale. It features Theda Bara, one of film's early sex symbols, and it's one of only a few of her films that have survived. 

"You men shield each other's shameful sins. But were it a woman at fault, how quick you'd be to expose and condemn her."

The Gist

The Vampire runs loose through the town, working her way through men, controlling them with alcohol, using them up, and leaving them high and dry. After a perceived slight by the wife of John Schuyler, she sets her sights on him, taking advantage of his wife and daughter's absence during his mission to England to work her wiles on him. When they return from their illicit rampage through Europe, she maintains her hold on him despite the efforts of his wife, Kate, to free him from her grip. 

Memorable Moments

The Fool

The Vampire. Crushing men's spirits like she crushes flowers.

Feeling slighted.

The family enjoys a sunset.

The Vampire's victim.

He wants to destroy her.

But he can't.

There's only one way to escape her.

The brazen hussy shows off her ankle.

Not so secret affair.

Being snubbed by society.

Letting their love hang out in Italy.

Life before traffic lanes. She can almost touch her papa.

The Vampire prevents a reconciliation.

Maintaining his dependency.

Partying with good time gals.

He is not happy that she is already working on her next victim.

Not something a kid should have to see.

Another one bites the dust.


Like many of Kino's silent film offerings, this one is in fairly good condition, it has beautiful tints and a wonderful piano score that fits well with the action on screen, which is essential to the enjoyment of a silent film. It's not completely clear why the Vampire's victims stick around to be abused by her. We have to assume it's her seductive powers, coupled with alcohol and/or drug dependency that allows her to suck the life out of her victims. It's an interesting film in that there is no happy ending. The Fool does not return to his family, and the Vampire does not receive any comeuppance. The ending is cruel and strange with her dropping flower petals onto his dead face and blowing them off. We assume she will move on to her next victim and his child will forever be scarred by seeing her wasted dad clinging to a vamp, knowing that he chose her over his own daughter. There are a lot of scenes here that aren't essential to the film, but it's still interesting to get a glimpse of the past and see fashions and home decor from the period. It's a wonder anyone survived unregulated traffic in the early 1900s. That was certainly a sight to see in this picture!

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