A gender-reversed version of The Taming of the Shrew with feminist overtones and starring Pola Negri? Yes, please! This Roaring Twenties dramedy casts Pola as a chain-smoking, tattoo-getting, couture-wearing countess who takes a tiny mid-west town by storm. She sets her sights on a prim district attorney and the sparks fly. He doesn’t approve of anyone– but particularly women– having a good time. She has to beat some sense into his head. Literally. It doesn’t get more fun than this, people!
(My print review is here.)
Pola Negri got a lot of sexist and xenophobic insults thrown at her. (Still does, believe it or not.) How dare she go to Hollywood, demand creative control and try to date the most attractive singles in town? Women aren’t supposed to do that! Only men can do that! She didn’t want to make stupid movies? What a witch! And she dated the dead guy I have a crush on? Attention-grabber! Strumpet! Jezebel! And she has an accent! Pearls must be clutched! Oh! I shall swallow my own bonnet!
Mention Pola’s name and you can pretty much time an soft-boiled egg by how fast someone brings up dating Chaplin or the Valentino funeral. If you have put off meeting Pola because of rumors or snide remarks, do yourself a favor and give her a chance. I think you will like what you see.
(Oh, and in case I did not make myself clear enough in the video, I do not give a rat’s patootie about who Pola dated or what she did at funerals. I’m here for the movies.)
Memoirs of a Star by Pola Negri
The Pola Negri Appreciation Site (Dedicated fansite with many myths busted)
Featuring: Pola Negri (Online Bio)
Slovak Studies Program: Pola Negri (Details on Pola’s early life in Poland)
How Pola was Tamed by Adela Rogers St. Johns (A rather smug, xenophobic and condescending article detailing Pola’s “new direction” in this film. See what Pola had to put up with? I rolled my eyes particularly high at the way St. Johns takes special care to quote Pola in broken English. Yes, Adela, a Polish woman will speak with a Polish accent. I think we all understand. Now go chase yourself.)