Carmen (Lasky-Paramount, 1915) stars famed Metropolitan Opera soprano Geraldine Farrar in her most famous role on stage and screen. Her high-spirited and erotic performance dominates this vibrant film adaptation of Prosper Merimee͛s story and Georges Bizet's opera. Also featured in the cast are the tragic matinee idol Wallace Reid and DeMille's long-time collaborator Jeanie Macpherson. Produced on a relatively modest scale, Carmen shares much with DeMille's earlier work and anticipates his more mature efforts.
Following her triumphant success with the 1914-1915 Metropolitan Opera season, Geraldine Farrar was forced to cancel her annual European concert tour due to the war. Producer Jesse Lasky jumped at the chance of signing the opera star for three pictures to be made in Hollywood and personally directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Despite DeMille's concerns that Farrar, a master of the ͚grand͛ performance and gesture of the stage, would not be comfortable in front of the movie camera, she was a natural. Charming, believable and capable of great range, she lit up the screen just as she created excitement on the operatic stage.
The Cheat establishes the familiar DeMille narrative formula wherein a wayward wife's impulsive indiscretions propel her into public scandal, private shame and marital turmoil. Gambling away the Red Cross funds she has been entrusted with, the social-climbing Edith Hardy (Fannie Ward) must turn to Arakau, an Asian ivory trader (Sessue Hayakawa) to cover the loss and save her reputation. But by accepting the loan, Edith has become Arakau's property, signified by a brand he burns into her naked back. In a state of hysteria, Edith shoots her captor, a crime that is pinned on her husband, Richard (Jack Dean).
Only a month after DeMille's Carmen, Charlie Chaplin produced a brilliant parody of the film, Burlesque on ͚Carmen͛. Essanay, Chaplin's studio at the time, held the film back until they could expand it without the comedian's consent into a feature, adding new scenes with other actors and including shots excised from the original editing. Using documents from Chaplin͛s unsuccessful lawsuit to thwart Essanay, we have reconstructed the original film as nearly as possible, and seen for the first time in counterpoint to DeMille͛s feature, Burlesque on ͚Carmen͛ becomes one of Charlie Chaplin͛s funniest comedy shorts. 31 minutes.
Length: 57 minutes
Picture: Color Tinted
Starring: Geradine Farrar, Wallace Reid
Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Scenario: William C. de Mille
Music Arranged and Compiled in 1915 by: Hugo Riesenfeld
Music Performed by: Olympia Chamber Orchestra
Music Conducted by: Timothy Brock
Length: 59 minutes
Picture: Black and White
Starring: Fannie Ward, Sessue Hayakawa, Jack Dean
Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Story: Hector Turnbull
Screenplay: Turnbull and Jeanie Macpherson
Music Composed and Conducted by: Robert Israel
Produced for DVD by David Shepard
From the Blackhawk Films® Collection
Presented by Flicker Alley
William C. de Mille
Cecil B. DeMille