Video Review: A Woman of the World (1925)

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.)

Availability

A Woman of the World is available on DVD from Grapevine.

Sources

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.)

14 Replies to “Video Review: A Woman of the World (1925)”

  1. Fritzi! I was thoroughly enjoying your video review, and it suddenly just stopped midway through, and I can’t get it to continue! So…I will say I enjoyed the first half! And I love that clip of the woman fainting…makes me laugh every time I look at it!

    1. Oh dear. Sometimes Vimeo locks up like that. I generally love their service but they do sometimes get fatal errors. Refreshing usually fixes things. Sorry to hear about the technical difficulty 🙁

      The fainting lady is Constance Talmadge in HER NIGHT OF ROMANCE.

  2. It’s funny how no one is willing to check out Negri because of the funeral fiasco, but they’ll go watch other silent stars who have as much or more dirty laundry in their personal life. We would not be interested in these people at all were it not for their films. Who cares about who dated who or what publicity stunts they pulled? Just enjoy the movies!

    1. Agreed! And women almost always seem to bear the brunt. (Ingrid Bergman comes to mind.) Pola did what Pola wanted and good for her.

  3. I know nothing of Pola Negri, but it’s not our place today to judge her today. Movie-goers during her time might have been caught up in the frenzy of what the press was saying about her, but people today have no excuse. That’s an aspect of silent movie fandom that I’d rather not be a part of.

    As for the movie, oh Fritz, what am I going to do with all of these movies I want to see? 😉

    1. I agree absolutely. I mean, these people obsess over a funeral that happened almost eight decades ago and Pola is the one with a problem?

      Big movie wishlists: Hey, I do what I can 🙂

  4. My wife and myself saw your video review. We thought it was wonderful. One scene made want to weep. Keep it up.

  5. I love Pola Negri! She’s my favorite silent star. I think all the judgement she received was much too harsh because all she did was display her emotions in the only natural way she could. To me, she is the most exotic creature I have ever seen.

      1. Yes, she does! I don’t read many positive comments of her in Valentino biographies or in the Chaplin ones. One of them even talked of a big rumor of hers (the one with Margaret West) and confirmed it as true. The biographer called her “a notorious fabricator”. It’s just sad that this is how some people remember her.

      2. For the life of me, I cannot understand the meanness that Pola seems to inspire. I mean, she was flamboyant and eccentric but if those were crimes, all of Hollywood would be in the slammer. She liked to date good-looking and famous people, she demanded to be cast in quality films and she wanted her own way. Again, not exactly unique.

        The dead giveaway (at least for me) is the way these authors often write Pola’s “dialogue” in a cliched and offensive Polish accent. And they talk about her like she is a barbarian or something. I have never seen anything like it. I suspect that these authors have not seen many of her films. Her performances are indeed emotional but they are also intelligent and perfectly in tune with the rest of the film.

        As for the “serial fabricator” business, I find it odd that Lillian Gish told whoppers (major ones!) with shocking regularity but is still regarded as a reliable source. Pola engaged in similar myth-building and got slammed for it.

Comments are closed.