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A group of gypsy smugglers are frustrated in their attempts to bring their contraband into the city by Don Jose, an incorruptible officer in the Civil Guard. In order to help her kinsmen, the sultry Carmen seduces him, persuading him to abandon his post and look the other way. When his infatuation leads him to kill a fellow guardsman in order to prevent her arrest, he becomes a wanted fugitive. The capricious, fickle Carmen resents his possessiveness and leaves him for a famous toreador in Seville. Obsessed and frustrated, a distraught Don Jose follows her to the bullring with tragic consequences. Written by
Geraldine Farrar (as Carmen) is a Gypsy involved with a gang of smugglers; to help them, she agrees to deflect Officer Wallace Reid (as Don Jose)'s attention with a seduction. Mr. Reid is so smitten with Ms. Farrar, he decides to pursue her; but Farrar only has eyes for bullfighter Pedro de Cordoba (as Escamillo) Farrar, with a flower in her teeth, is unintentionally amusing (and not very convincing to modern eyes) as a seductress. Nonetheless, she was a big Metropolitan Opera star, and Bizet's "Carmen" proved to be a popular film debut. In fact, Motion Picture Magazine conducted an extensive poll to determine "Screen Masterpieces of Acting". and Farrar's "Carmen" was the best female performance of the year 1915; she outpolled not only Mae Marsh (in "Birth of a Nation") and Mary Pickford (in "Rags"), but also Theda Bara in a competing version of "Carmen".
A movie highlight is Farrar letting her hair down and cat-fighting with another woman in the cigarette factory where they work - and almost ripping the other woman's shirt off! Reid is a very handsome leading man, who doesn't overact throughout; making a scene where he nearly rapes Farrar more convincing. Mr. de Cordoba always uses his eyes to great advantage. Cecil B. DeMille shows improvement as a director - near the end, Farrar and de Cordoba play a nicely staged scene before the bullfight; though, Farrar ruins it by approaching the camera like she's going to take a bow. After the bullfight, Reid and Farrar take more "affective" bows.
****** Carmen (10/31/15) Cecil B. DeMille ~ Geraldine Farrar, Wallace Reid, Pedro de Cordoba, Horace B. Carpenter
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