Lure of Ambition (1919)

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In her swan song for Fox (the studio that had created the "vamp"), Theda Bara was rather less lethal than in her earlier, hugely successful melodramas. She played the social-climbing Olga Dolan, who becomes the Duchess of Rutledge by means of deception and sheer ruthlessness. Sadly, Bara, who had more or less single-handedly begun the "vamp" craze with the prototype of the genre, A Fool There Was, went out with little more than a whisper. She left films after the ironically titled The Lure of Ambition, and was lured back only twice, in: The Unchastened Woman (1925), a poverty row concoction which had few takers, and Madame Mystery (1926), spoofing her former image and accompanied by the "Hal Roach All Stars." Happily married (to British director Charles J. Brabin) and a stolid Beverly Hills matron, Bara reportedly gave little thought to her rather sensational screen career.