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Friday, May 25, 2018

Zaza (1923)

A music hall performer (Gloria Swanson) has all the men falling for her. All except the man she wants, a reserved diplomat (H.B. Warner, KING OF KINGS). However, a near fatal fall changes all that but the road to love is littered with heartbreak. Based on the 1899 French play by Pierre Berton and Charles Simon and directed by Allan Dwan. Previously filmed in 1919 and George Cukor would direct Claudette Colbert in yet another version in 1939. It's a pity that Gloria Swanson's career now seems defined by her Norma Desmond in SUNSET BOULEVARD. As excellent as she was in that, it seems to have eclipsed her reigning years in silent cinema where she was a vibrant and fascinating presence. She's the reason to see ZAZA. As cinema, it's rather hackneyed. Yet another variation of BACK STREET but this time with a happy ending. But Swanson tears up the screen whether engaged in a catfight with another music hall performer, suffering in pain in the hospital or raging at her lover. With Lucille La Verne, Mary Thurman and Ferdinand Gottschalk.

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