Carmen (1915)

Genres - Drama  |   Countries - United States   |  
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Even though Paramount already had a production of Carmen in the works, producer William Fox forged right ahead with his own, starring Theda Bara as the hot-blooded cigarette girl. Fox risked having his film pale in comparison to the other, which had Cecil B. DeMille directing, and opera diva Geraldine Farrar in her screen debut. But he brought in the talented Raoul Walsh to direct and spared no expense when it came to the lavish sets, so his picture pretty much ran neck in neck with Paramount's (with the exception of Bara's performance -- Farrar, who played the role on stage, did better work). Fox's Carmen sticks closer to the Prosper Merimee novel than Paramount's, which relied strongly on the Bizet opera (for obvious reasons). The story here includes Michaela, Don Jose's first love (Elsie MacLeod). But the story is basically the same, no matter the source -Carmen gets into a brawl with another girl at the cigarette factory (Fay Tunis -- this was her only acting credit) and is put under arrest. But her captor, Don Jose (Swedish actor Einar Linden in his first American film), falls in love with her and lets her go, bringing disgrace down on himself. Carmen runs off and joins some Gypsies and finds another lover, bullfighter Escamillo (Carl Harbaugh). Don Jose is furious at being cast aside so callously and stabs Carmen to death outside the bullring. According to Variety's review, Fox's Carmen "just misses being a masterpiece." We'll have to take the critic's word for it, as the film apparently no longer exists.