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A Fool There Was

Overview

As overwrought and overacted as it appears today, this melodrama took America by storm in 1915. Its history actually goes a bit deeper than the poem The Vampire by Rudyard Kipling. Kipling's poem, in fact, had been inspired by a scandalous 1897 painting by Philip Burne-Jones, which showed a woman in a white nightgown grinning triumphantly over a man's lifeless form. A play, entitled A Fool There Was, was made from the poem in 1909 by Porter Emerson Browne and it promptly became a smash although it was vilified by...
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Overview

As overwrought and overacted as it appears today, this melodrama took America by storm in 1915. Its history actually goes a bit deeper than the poem The Vampire by Rudyard Kipling. Kipling's poem, in fact, had been inspired by a scandalous 1897 painting by Philip Burne-Jones, which showed a woman in a white nightgown grinning triumphantly over a man's lifeless form. A play, entitled A Fool There Was, was made from the poem in 1909 by Porter Emerson Browne and it promptly became a smash although it was vilified by critics. Producer William Fox bought its screen rights, but he didn't film it until 1914. By the time he cast Theda Bara in the role, she had already transformed herself from Ohio-born Theodosia Goodman into unsuccessful stage actress Theodosia de Coppett. Clearly another name change was in order, and Bara -- short from Baranger, her maternal grandfather's last name -- was chosen Theda was one of her nicknames. Over the next several years, Bara would make literally dozens and dozens of films for Fox; only a few are known to still exist and this is one of them. Wealthy diplomat John Schuyler, "the Fool" Edward Jose, loves his wife Mabel Frenyer and daughter Runa Hodges, but his life goes awry when he leaves without them on an important foreign mission. On the ship he meets the Vampire Bara. By the time Schuyler reaches Italy, he has forgotten about everything but this wicked vamp. His wife, his work, and even his child are replaced in his heart by this evil woman. He lives for her every whim, oblivious to the rest of the world. She keeps him under control through the use of drink and drugs and his fortune slips away. Finally his health does too, and he dies at the vampire's feet. She scatters rose petals on his inert form and gloats. Even though this melodramatic style of vamp was out of fashion by the 1920s a subtler, more stylish version had developed, this film was remade in 1922 with Estelle Taylor in the lead. Predictably, the picture bombed.
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Special Features

Bonus: the Sultan's Wife
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/28/2010
  • UPC: 089218648495
  • Original Release: 1915
  • Rating:

  • Source: Alpha Video
  • Presentation: B&W
  • Sound: silent
  • Time: 1:23:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 21,206

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Mabel Frenyer The Fool's Wife
Baby Runa Hodges The Child
Theda Bara The Vampire
Edward José The Fool
Clifford Bruce A Friend
Victor Benoit The Man
May Allison The Wife's Sister
Frank Powell The Doctor
Gloria Swanson The Sultan's Wife
Bobby Vernon The Sultan's Wife
Technical Credits
Clarence G. Badger Director
Frank Powell Director, Screenwriter
Lucien Andriot Cinematographer
William Fox Producer
Roy L. McCardell Screenwriter
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Fool There Was
1. Chapter 1 [:23]
2. Chapter 2 [8:41]
3. Chapter 3 [10:39]
4. Chapter 4 [6:57]
5. Chapter 5 [9:41]
6. Chapter 6 [10:23]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Fool There Was
   A Fool There Was
   Chapter Index
   Catalog
   The Sultan's Wife
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