Fri 18 Jan 2013
FOOL’S PARADISE. Famous Players / Lasky Super Production for Paramount release, 1922. Dorothy Dalton, Conrad Nagel, Mildred Harris, Theodore Kosloff, Clarence Burton, John Davidson, Julia Faye. Photography by Alvin Wyckoff and Karl Strus. Director: Cecil B. DeMille. Shown at Cinevent 38, Columbus OH, May 2006.
This was a repeat performance for me but I find it hard to resist early DeMille silents. Arthur Phelps (Conrad Nagel), an unsuccessful poet, is also unsuccessful in his pursuit of noted dancer Rosa Duchene. When he is blinded by a cruel joke engineered by Poli Patchouli (Dorothy Dalton), a dancehall girl who’s in love with him, she assumes the identity of Rosa, marries the besmitten and unsuspecting Arthur, and the two live in deceptive bliss until Poli, repenting of her joke that blinded Arthur, arranges for an operation that may restore his sight.
Only a DeMille could make this concoction work, but against all odds, and with the help of his appealing cast and some flamboyant camerawork, he does. There’s an episode late in the film that cannot be allowed to pass unnoticed. Arthur, a millionaire after oil!