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POISONED PARADISE
THE FORBIDDEN STORY OF MONTE CARLO
click title to view picture(s) of this feature!

PRESERVATION STATUS: Preserved onto a printed dupe negative (saved to negative) at UCLA.
Title: Poisoned paradise : the forbidden story of Monte Carlo / Preferred Pictures ; presented by B.P. Schulberg ; director, Louis Gasnier ; scenario, Waldemar Young. 1924.

Source: "Poisoned Paradise: A Romance of Monte Carlo" (New York: 1922) Robert William Service. 1922.

Credits supplied from: AFI catalog, 1921-1930. Original distributor was Al Lichtman Corp. Footage on release was 6,800 ft., according to: AFI catalog, 1921-1930. Credit: Photographer, Karl Struss.

Performers: Kenneth Harlan (Hugh Kildair/Gilbert Kildair); Clara Bow (Margot Le Blanc); Barbara Tennant (Mrs. G. Kildair); André de Beranger (Krantz); Carmel Myers (Mrs. Belmire); Raymond Griffith (Martel); Josef Swickard (Professor Durand); Evelyn Selbie (Madame Tranquille); Michael Varconi (Dr. Bergius); Frankie Lee (Hugh Kildair, as child); Peaches Jackson (Margot Le Blanc, as child).

Melodrama: Margot Le Blanc loses her small fortune at Monte Carlo and makes the acquaintance of Hugh Kildair, an artist, who hires her as a housekeeper. A gang of thieves set a trap for Kildair when they find that he knows a mathematical system guaranteed to win at the gambling table. The gang is foiled by the arrival of the police; and Kildair, realizing he has fallen in love with Margot, marries her. (From "The American Film Institute Catalogue of Feature Films")

(NEW YORK TIMES FILM REVIEWS:)Fortunes won, but mostly lost, the luxurious life while the wheel of chance spins against the bank, the entrancing sight of Monaco Bay and of the Condamine, and also the tempting portals of Monte Carlo Casino are set before one on the screen in "Poisoned Paradise," the new pictorial feature at the Broadway, which is not deserving of such a dime-novel title.

The story was adapted from a novel by Robert W. Service, and directed by L. Gasnier. While this photoplay is not a masterpiece, it is the best effort we have beheld by this director. There is a great deal of truth interspersed with impossible fiction. However, there is such a thing as the Casino Secret Service, but we must declare that the chief of this clever body of men does not parade himself, as is brought out in this photoplay.

The introductory scenes are really clever, as they show a little boy in Eton clothes in London and then turn to a little girl in France. Afterward there follows, of course, the meeting of the two the girl being the foster daughter of an old woman on whom fortune had smiled in delirious Monte Carlo.

In the tale there is the old man who decides to have his last fling at roulette, having worked out some mysterious system by which at a certain hour of the day he can be sure of one number turning up and netting him a pile of bank notes.

Hugh Kildair (Kenneth Harlan), an artist, encounters the lithesome beauty, Mrs. Belmire, one of a band of adventurers ever alert for a Casino winner, Hugh is captivated by the woman's charms, especially when she is robed derigeur in the Cafe de Paris. He dwells in a small hotel in which Margot Le Blanc (Clara Bow) has been for sometime. She is desperate, having lost her last franc on the green baize tables.Through the half-open door of Hugh's room she espies his wallet on his bed and after some hesitancy she stealthily slips into the room and snatches up the pocketbook. Hugh expected this would happen. He grasps Margot by the wrist and, after listening to her patheticstory, he asks her to share his apartment where they can live as brother and sister.

Professor Durand, a white-haired, slender old man, whose son, and also a friend, Kildair's father,ended their lives in the flower-scented gardens of Monte Carlo, tells Hugh that he has discovered a sure system for winning. Hugh is reluctant to have the Professor gamble, but the old man is insistent, and that evening he wins a small fortune, all eyes around the table looking enviously at him as he lugs his gold and notes away in an attache case. He is lucky again and again, and the band of schemers are anxious to learn the Profesor's secret. They therefore drug Hugh and raid the Professor's room, and in their rage at not being able to ascertain the valuable system they murder the owner of it.

Mr. Gasnier has pictured the adept head of Monte Carlo's secret service, disguised in female attire, surprising the crooks. Raymond Griffith figures as Martel, the "Rat", a libertine who has no good in him. Mr.Griffith is not quite as nervous as he was in other productions, but he still insists on performing uninteresting and old tricks, just to show that he is playing the role of a crook. He is much too obvious for these days of the screen.

Mr Gasnier could have made this production quite an important picture with a little more study of Monte Carlo and the existence there. He could have shown the losers applying for enough money to return home, the men who were saved from misfortune by having a train to catch at the height of their good luck, the women who faint and vanish through mirrored doors and the old women who beg for money in the perfumed atmosphere of the roulette room. Nevertheless it is quite an interesting story with some ingenious situations.

Mr. Harlan is efficient and sympathetic as Hugh Kildair, and Miss Bow delivers a capable performance. Carmel Myers makes a captivating vampire, and Peaches Jackson is excellent as the little girl in the first scene of this film.


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