August 19, 2013

Camille "a la" Nazimova - Chapter 2


Law student Armand Duval (Rudolph Valentino) met Parisian courtesan Marguerite Gautier, (Alla Nazimova) and was instantly attracted to her.  At her post Opera party, he was horrified by the hangers-on with whom she surrounded herself, as well as by the serious illness she attempted to conceal.
Marguerite's consumption (tuberculosis), exacerbated by her party lifestyle, was slowly killing her. Armand, now totally in love, begged Marguerite to quit Paris, saying he would care for her.  Touched by this sincere and caring young man and falling in love herself, Marguerite banished the partygoers from her apartment and had some time alone with Armand.



Armand, having convinced Marguerite to leave Paris and live in the country, visits, giving her a book, Manon Lescaut, which she treasures, although the story gives her a foreboding of doom.

 Marguerite's health has improved she is enjoying this new life with Armand. He reads Manon Lescaut to her under the flowering Spring orchard.
 Manon Lescaut is a love story that mirrors their own romance. Armand inscribes the volume for Marguerite, proclaiming his love, and it becomes her most prized possession.
Colorized frame of Marguerite and Armand 
A visit from Armand's father (William Orlamond) brings the bliss to a grinding halt. Citing the honor of the Duval family, he tells Marguerite she must let Armand go--permanently. 
Devastated, Marguerite pens a note on the Count de Varville's (Arthur Hoyt) calling card, to leave for Armand and returns to Paris and her former life.
Marguerite, back with de Varville as her "protector", resumes Parisian nightlife. The Lady of the Camellias is back. 
No longer any need to sell off her possessions, Marguerite resumes a life of luxury, fine clothes and parties. 
Believing that Marguerite no longer loves him and that their love was just a dalliance for her, Armand hits the Paris scene with a bang. At a trendy new Casino, he takes up with courtesan du moment, Olympe (Consuelo Flowerton). His friend Gaston Rieux (Rex Cherryman), knowing that he is acting out of hurt and pain, keeps a watchful eye on Armand. 

Inevitably, one night Marguerite arrives at the Casino with de Varville.  Gentlemanly Gaston, who is now engaged to Nichette (Patsy Ruth Miller), greets the lady in what might have been an awkward moment. 
At the gaming table, de Varville mocks Armand--saying that he has 'beginner's luck'.  In spite of this, Armand breaks the bank, while Olympe fawns. 

Seeing Marguerite sitting alone, Armand approaches her in an attempt to change her mind and resume their relationship. He is still in love with her and she with him. 
The tenderness fades when Marguerite recalls her promise to Armand's father. She  lies to Armand, telling him that she loves the Count de Varville. 
Armand's ardor turns to rage and he publicly humiliates a shattered Marguerite. 

Unable to look into the pained, angry eyes of the man she loves, Marguerite turns her head away.  Their great love seems to be truly over. 
 De Varville's interests wander and Marguerite gives up life as a courtesan, as her health plummets.  Soon, she is destitute and bedridden, accompanied only by her devoted maid (Elinor Oliver). Newlyweds Gaston and Nichette come to call, horrified by the condition in which they find Marguerite. All of her possessions have been taken away to be sold at auction, save her volume of Manon Lescaut, which she pleaded with the collectors to keep.
Armand's father, in a moment of guilt, reveals his part in what has happened to Marguerite. Armand is shocked and remorseful.
Marguerite begs her maid and visitors, "Let me sleep. I am happy." as she clutches Manon Lescaut to her bosom. 
*Be sure to read PART ONE of my blog re this wonderful film. Also, check out my blog post on Natacha Rambova, who did all the Costumes and Art Direction. Rudolph Valentino and Nazimova give amazing performances. See the DVD, for the full effect, if you can! 


  1. Wonderful, Inge - I just love the photos you have chosen. Nazimova looks so tiny in that big bed! She is absolutely riveting and - well, I don't think I could have said "no" to Rudy!

    1. Thanks! It is a beautiful and well-acted film. My pictures cannot do it justice. Nazimova and Valentino are terrific!