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Sapho (1917)

Sapho (1917) Famous Players Film Co. Distributor: Paramount Pictures Corp. Presenter: Daniel Frohman. Director: Hugh Ford. Scenario: Hugh Ford. Camera, Ned Van Buren. Cast: Pauline Frederick, Frank Losee, John Sainpolis, Pedro de Cordoba, Thomas Meighan. Pleasure-seeking artist's model discards one man after another, until she falls in love with a student from the country who knows nothing of her past. 5 reels. This film appears to be LOST

A photo of Frederick in Sapho which appeared in Photoplay, May 1917 issue
(Thanks to David Menefee for this picture)
Frederic in Sapho
Click on thumbnail for larger view

Still Photo on The Silent Film Still Archive

Review from Variety
Reviews from Moving Picture World
Review from Photoplay

Review from Variety, March 16, 1917

Sapho Pauline Frederick
Claudel Frank Losee
Dejoie John Sainpolis
Flamant Pedro de Cordoba
Jean Gaussin Thomas Meighan

"Sapho." What memories that single word brings. Olga Nethersole, the famous staircase scene, the three minute kiss, the police interference and all that . Then "Sapho," with Pauline Frederick"! What a combination! Instinctively one says "it must be great," and then immediately decides that to see it will be an hour well wasted. That's exactly what the hour will be--well wasted--with the accent on the wasted. But for the exhibitor this picture will be a gold mine. The combination of the title and the star will prove a money getter, but that it will play repeats doesn't follow. The public will be attracted in the hope that they are going to see something salacious, racy and with a dash of spice, but they are doomed to disappointment, for the picturization of Alphonse Daudet's famous Parisian courtesan is quite commonplace, for all the real thrills have been eliminated. There are touches here and there, however, where the viewers are led up to great expectations, but in the same moment these are shattered by the close cutting of the scene. Pictorially there is a flash in certain parts that shows that the cameraman has at least done his work well, but the tout ensemble of the production brings it into the class with the general run of Paramount releases, with the only points outstanding being the fact that the title will attract box office patronage. There is one thing that must be said in the case: Miss Frederick has been surrounded by a male supporting cast that is worthy, the work of Frank Losee, John Sainpolis and Thomas Meighan registering.


Reviews from Moving Picture World

March 24, 1917

Pauline Frederick Shines in "Sapho"
Gives Strong Performance in Famous Players Adaptation of Alphonse Daudet's Drama.
Reviewed by George Blaisdell.

The outstanding factor in the Famous Players adaptation of "Sapho" is the individual work of Pauline Frederick in the name role. Her interpretation of the famous heroine of Alphonse Daudet's classic is a thing of life. She has the fire, the abandon, the coquettish art of the young Frenchwoman who finds life pleasant, who makes what she believes to be love consecutively to the sculptor, the poet and the young man about town. And she possesses the depth of feeling to reveal to us the soul of the woman who comes in contact with the one man who in her world towers above all others, for whom she casts aside the luxuries bestowed by former favored suitors and elects to share with him a cottage in the country.

[Omitted, photo of Frederick sitting in a man's lap. Caption: Scene from "Sapho" (Famous Players)

"Sapho" is not a Sunday school tale. It is a psychological study of a type of womankind, a searching out of the heart of a woman. Sapho holds our attention if she does not win our sympathy as she transfers her affections even as she might change her garb, but there can be no question of her domination following the moment she finds herself. It is a worthy portrayal of an unworthy woman who turns straight.

Frank Losee is Caoudal, the sculptor, who in the flower girl discovers more than the model he seeks. John Sainpolis is Dejoie, the poet of untender years who finds no difficulty in persuading Sapho to change her address. Pedro De Cordoba is Flamant, who for the love of Sapho commits forgery and loses his liberty and his mistress at the same time. Thomas Meighan is Jean Gaussin, the youth from the country, who not too late discovers he has loved unwisely and transfers back to the sweetheart of his childhood the affection that for a time had gone afield. It is a fine cast.

Hugh Ford has splendidly staged the production. He has reproduced the atmosphere of Paris of the period of today rather than of the time of the story. Mr. Ford has been at pains to bring out the lighter side of the drama, to leave covered as much as may be the sordid side; but he has banked strong on the dramatic situations of the denouement. It is all well done.

March 24, 1917

SAPHO (Famous Players--Five Parts--March 12)--Cast of Character: Pauline Frederick, Frank Losee, John Sainpolis, Pedro de Cordoba, Thomas Meighan.

Sapho, whose real name is Fanny Legrand, is the daughter of poor people, her father being a coachman, and her early home is little more than a hovel in the slums of Paris. She is one of the quaint girl flower-sellers on the streets of Paris, earning a few sous daily, which she is compelled to give toward the support of the family. It was while selling her wares in one of the big restaurants that she is first seen by Caoudal, the famous sculptor, who recognizes her wonderful beauty and persuades her to pose for him.

The luxury of his studio awakens in her an unsuspected love for the beautiful things of life. One step leads to another, and it is not long before she becomes the most talked of an sought after model of Paris.

She is content to live in this way, reveling in beauty and the admiration of her friends and Caoudel himself, until Dejoie, the poet, moved by hear beauty, writes verses to her which make both himself and her still more famous, winning her away from Caoudal. The poet is too old to hold the attention of the young girl, who craves young society and admiration, so when she meets handsome young Flamant, she lightly tells Dejoie that he is "too old" and gains the friendship of the younger man.

Flamant is an engraver and finds himself hard put to it to gratify the expensive whims of Sapho, but as he is really very fond of the handsome model, he manages to forge a name and obtain money under false pretenses. His ruse is discovered, and as the gendarmes come to lead him away to prison Sapho receives an invitation to a ball to take place that very evening.

At the ball she appears as "Sapho" and there meets for the first time the student, Jean Gaussin, with whom she falls in love. It is a case of love at first sight on both sides and the two are very happy, and Sapho is learning to express the better side of her nature when Jean is shocked by accidentally learning of her past life. It is the "beginning of the end."

Jean finally weds a little country girl, and Sapho, rather than return to her old life, turns Red Cross nurse and consecrates the rest of her life to that noble work.

Review from Photoplay

v. 11 no. 6, May 1917

The Shadow Stage by Julian Johnson
(excerpt from a series of reviews)

... we come to "Sapho," the drama's hectic heritage from Olga Nethersole. You can't name a better woman in the world for Fanny LeGrand than Pauline Frederick, who plays the part here. We follow Fanny through her at first ingenuous and at length decidedy knowing course, to the sad but improving finale in which she, a dark spectre of remorse, takes a farewell sight along a church pillar at Jean, now comfy forever with his colorless kitten from the country. In the novel, I believe Fanny went back more or less happily to the man who forged for her, thus proving that she believed in being on the level with somebody. But this would never do for the censors, who are born Calvinists in their stern adherence to perdition for all cuties who make their prettiness practical. Miss Frederick is beautiful always, and quite thrilling when, as the model, there is more of her visible than even the sea shore sees in summer. Frnk Losee, as the elderly sculptor who is her first patron and friend, John Sainpolis as Dejoie, Pedro DeCordoba as the forging clerk, and Thomas Meighan as the virile Jean, are excllently cast. The production is careful, the direction scholastic. "Sapho" is perfect exept that it has no life. THe spirit, the soul, are lacking.

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Last revised, July 4, 2007