Charlie Chaplin and A Woman of Paris

The Genesis of a Misunderstood Masterpiece


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About the Book

Charlie Chaplin’s A Woman of Paris (1923) was a groundbreaking film which was neither a simple recycling of Peggy Hopkins Joyce’s story, nor quickly forgotten. Through heavily-documented “period research,” this book lands several bombshells, including Paris is deeply rooted in Chaplin’s previous films and his relationship with Edna Purviance, Paris was not rejected by heartland America, Chaplin did “romantic research” (especially with Pola Negri), and Paris’ many ongoing influences have never been fully appreciated. These are just a few of the mistakes about Paris.

About the Author(s)

Wes D. Gehring is a distinguished professor of film at Ball State University and associate media editor for USA Today magazine, for which he also writes the column “Reel World.” He is the author of 40 film books, including biographies of James Dean, Carole Lombard, Steve McQueen, Robert Wise, Red Skelton and Charlie Chaplin.

Bibliographic Details

Wes D. Gehring
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 260
Bibliographic Info: 41 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7244-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4072-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword by Anthony Slide 1
Preface and Acknowledgments 3
Prologue: Searching for an Artist’s Lost Shadow 5
1. Chaplin’s Biography Prior to A Woman of Paris: (A Darkly Farcical Perspective) (1889–1923) 13
2. “Chaplinitis”: The Initial Fame Factor and Early Chaplin Films with Tangential Ties to A Woman of Paris 26
3. The Messiah-like World War I Bond Tour: “Chaplinitis” in Overdrive 50
4. Further Glass Ceiling Breaking: The Precedent Shattering Dark Comedy Shoulder Arms (1918) 66
5. Edna Purviance: A Less Than “Sunnyside” (1919) March to The Kid (1921) and A Woman of Paris (1923) 77
6. More Revisionism: A Short Subject and The Kid (1921) Continue to Anticipate A Woman of Paris (1923) 91
7. The Kid (1921) More Than Fulfills the “Letter to a Genius” Opening to Chapter 6 111
8. Charlie Chaplin Goes to Europe (1921) 122
9. Continuing the Path to A Woman of Paris (1923): A Unique Literary Year and Two Seminal Shorter Works 138
10. Prologue to A Woman of Paris (1923): The Pilgrim (1923), and the Women Impacting Paris 159
11. Making A Woman of Paris (1923) and Its Response 177
12. Correcting More Errors About Both the 1923 Release and the 1970s Rebirth of A Woman of Paris 193
Epilogue: A Woman of Paris (1923) and the United States of Amnesia 213
Filmography 219
Chapter Notes 221
Bibliography 237
Index 249

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Gehring remains supreme in film comedy scholarship”—Choice
  • “Just about anything with film historian and media writer Wes D. Gehring’s name on it will be of quality.”—Cinema Retro