Fun Size Review: A Fool There Was (1915)

Theda Bara was not actually the first movie vamp but she remains the most famous. This picture, her first vampire melodrama, is rough around the edges but it does give us a taste of her quirky charisma.

Bara seduces, betrays and abandons every man she can lay claws on and has a grand time doing it. It’s all very corny but not nearly as wicked or kitschy as it thinks it is. However, it is a rare chance to see superstar Bara in the genre that made her a superstar. (She has one of the most abysmal film survival rates of a silent star of her caliber and almost all of her vamp pictures are lost.) See it, by all means, but know what you are getting into.

How does it end? Hover or tap below for a spoiler.

The family of Bara’s latest victim attempts to extract him but he will not go. The film ends with Bara sprinkling rose petals over his prostrate form. Told you it was corny.

Read my full-length review here. (I also go after a few misconceptions that have cropped up.)

If it were a dessert it would be: Splenda Chocolate Chip Cookies. Decadent on the surface but fails both as healthfood and as a guilty pleasure.

Availability: Released in numerous bargain editions but I recommend the Kino Lorber release as the excellent piano score from Philip Carli makes the picture considerable more entertaining and enjoyable.

6 Replies to “Fun Size Review: A Fool There Was (1915)”

  1. Supposedly some were “lost” in the second Fox New Jersey vault fire about 1960 but I don’t know about that. It was that fire that was said to have lost the lone copies of three Charlie Chan films from 1930-31 of which one was found years later but with a dubbed Spanish soundtrack which I have.

    1. I read that Bara kept copies at her home but as they were not properly stored, they decayed by the time she got around to rewatching them. 🙁 How interesting about Chan films!

  2. It’s such a shame that, I think, this is the only film of hers that has survived…that we know of. How I would love to see her as Cleopatra. Poor thing had such a short film career

  3. The one lost Theda Bara film I would love to see resurface is Kathleen Mavourneen, just because of the outrage it caused regarding the casting. The film might not be all that good but like the fragment of Cleopatra and A Fool There Was, there isn’t very much to judge besides the vamp enigma of Bara.

    1. Yes & it’s so hard to make judgement calls with so little of her prime work available. A Fool There Was is rough but she was just getting started. I would love to see her Carmen, especially since I enjoyed the DeMille/Farrar version so much.

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