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Straight from Paris (1921)

Straight From Paris (1921) Equity Pictures Corp. Director: Harry Garson. Scenario: Sada Cowan. Cast: Clara Kimball Young, Bertram Grassby, William P, Carleton, Betty Francisco, Thomas Jefferson, Gerard Alexander, Clarissa Selwynne. 6 reels. An incomplete 35 mm. nitrate print and safety negative (reels 2-4, and 6) and a 35mm safety print of reel 3 are held by the Library of Congress.. This is also available on video.

A strained moment in Lucette's hat shop Young adjusts a woman's hat
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Review from Variety
Review from Moving Picture World
Review from Photoplay
Unidentified Review
Viewing comments

Review from Variety, April 1921?

Lucette Clara Kimball Young
John Van Austen W. P. Carleton
Robert Van Austen Bertram Grassby
Ada Van Austen Clarissa Selwyne
Claude Grenier Thomas Jefferson
Doris Charming Betty Francisco

This should go through the sticks and make them yell for more. Clara Kimball Young is starred in it by Equity Pictures and it was seen recently at the Loew houses here where it went over well. Sada Cowan wrote it and Harry Garson directed. It has everything melodrama should have to hit the masses right and Miss Young is like it. By the same token it is far removed from that austere improvement hoped for in pictures.

Lucette Grenier is a milliner and young Van Austen, member of the 400, falls inn love with her. His family, of course, are opposed and the plot is off to a running start. In this picture, purity and general superiority of the milliner to the supposedly well bred members of New York's rich social set is proved by Uncle John who intends to force the acceptance of Lucette as his nephew's fiancee because he likes Lucette. The method he employs is neat.

He makes love to Lucette and she turns him down, thus proving her virtue and she is invited to a party at the Van Austens. Meanwhile, Robert renews his affair with a little chorus girl. At the party Lucette's grandfather comes in drunk to rescue his grand child from the wicked wiles of the 400. Lucette breaks her engagement only to be claimed in marriage by Uncle John who is a millionaire.

What more could exhibitors ask in the way of a story? They get i8n addition Miss Young's adept ability at screen work and her display of gowns. These are too low cut for a modest girl, but then people like that. The supporting cast, too, is excellent, Thomas Jefferson standing out by his portrayal of the old grandfather.


Review from Moving Picture World, April 23, 1921

Smart Comedy of New York Life is Harry Garson Production, Starring Clara Kimball Young
Reviewed by Jessie Robb.

In this amusing, slightly satirical comedy of New York life, Harry Garson has a highly satisfactory vehicle in which to display the beauty and talents of Clara Kimball Young. A pleasantly spiced melange of New York society, the stage of the chorus girl and Fifth Ave. shops, the development of this photoplay has been in stressing the foibles and amiable weaknesses of the humans in these walks of life rather than the dramatic opportunities provided. And further the scenic investiture is really beautiful, the women's frocks lovely and the men perfectly tailored. The Vision of the Ring and episode of the French Revolution, is noteworthy.

Exquisitely gowned, Clara Kimball Young is lovelier than ever. Her delineation of the Frenchwoman, Lucette Grenier, is a delicate piece of work, the Gallic temperment suggested by well chosen gestures. The cast of well known players give an entertaining performance, the work of Thomas Jefferson as Henri Trevel, and Bertram Grassby as Robert van Austin, being especially good. A well known, talented star and an amusing story handsomely mounted and well handled should make this production a financial success for the exhibitor.


Lucette Clara Kimball Young
Henri Trevel Thomas Jefferson
Robert Van Austen Bertram Grassby
Van Austen, Sr. Wm. P. Carleton
Mrs. Van Austen Clarissa Selwynne
Mrs. Stevenson Gerard Alexander
Story by Sada Cowan.
Scenario by
Directed by Harry Garson
Photographed by Jacques.
Length, Five Reels

The Story: A pretty pair of ankles attracts Robert Van Austin, and to relieve his ennui on shipboard he obtains an introduction to their owner, Lucette Grenier, owner of a smart Firth Ave. shop, on a trip to Paris for the latest models. A swift courtship follows and the return trip finds them engaged. Robert is apprehensive. His former affair with Doris Charming and his aristocratic and snobbish mother both promise trouble.

A mixup of suit cases causes Robert to tell his mother sooner than he had planned. Van Austin, Sr., his uncle, insists on entertaining Lucette to meet the family. Mrs. Van Austin snubs her. Meanwhile, Doris Charming, visits the shop and charges expensive articles to Robert. Understanding his character from this, Lucette decides to break the engagement. At a dance given by Van Austin, Sr., Henri Trevel, Lucette's grandfather, whose existence she has concealed because of his weakness for drink, comes to take her home. In his befuddled state he thinks she needs his care. Before she goes Van Austin, Sr. asks her to marry him. So the "Lucette" shop is closed.

Exploitation Angles: Sell Miss Young in a story of the various layers of New York life. She will sell herself if you only give her a chance, but advertise liberally to let the idea get over. She will not sell unless people know you offer her as an attraction. Split your money between the newspapers and the billboards. Both will bring returns here.

Review from Photoplay, October 1921

Clara Kimball Young and a woman

In "Straight from Paris," Clara Kimball Young portrays a high-born French milliner who becomes engaged to the profligate scion of an aristocratic New York family. The young man's mother frowns upon this union, and attempts to discredit her son's fiancee. The latter outwits her, however, thereby demonstrating the triumph of mind over mater. For all that, it is a mediocre picture.

Unidentified Review (apparently British)

Clara Kimball Young is seen this month in a pleasing comedy of New York society entitled Straight from Paris. Clara's rôle is that of a Frenchwoman, "Lucette Grenier," the proprietor of a fashionable millinery establishment. "Lucette" is courted by a number of aristocrats and she manages to keep her true identity secret from them all until a drunken grandfather gives her away. Society snobs are satiried in the story, which provides pleasing entertainment, and affords Clara Kimball Young a chance to display some part of her £ 50,000 wardrobe. Thomas Jefferson, Bertram Grassby, William P. Carleton, Clarissa Selwynne, and Gerard Alexander support the star.

Viewing comments

It is difficult to fairly judge this picture on the basis of reel 3, which is all that the Library of Congress has available for viewing. Reviews indicate that much of the film is comedy, but it isn't evident in this reel. The scene included on this reel was Young at a party where she is snubbed by her fiance's relatives. Since Young's character is a professional woman who is obviously no longer youthful, it seems surprising for her to be so taken aback by these people. She then comes home to her grandfather who sees a vision of his dead wife (also Young). The scenes viewed were not terribly promising, but perhaps this reel shows the character at the lowest point in her fortunes, and the setting would seem at least to provide the opportunity for a display of gowns.

Update July 27, 2014: Grapevine just put this out on video! This version, clocking in at about 38 minutes, must be from the same footage as the incomplete LOC print, though despite missing reels 1 and 5 it is easy to follow and the missing footage is only momentarily jarring. The plot concerns a successful milliner who has been working in Paris. She's engaged to a society man in New York whose snobbish family is extremely rude to her but whose uncle is secretly in love with her. Adding to the difficulties are her grandfather with a little drinking problem and her fiancÚ's old girlfriend. Clara gets to show some of her natural ebullience before the plot kicks in (too bad the first reel is missing, it might have been fun). After that, it's a bit predictable, but she wears some nice dresses. Thomas Jefferson is fine as her grandfather, Bertram Grassby is the shifty-looking fiance and William Carlton is a bit of a stiff as the uncle. The print is pretty beat up in some places..

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Last revised July 27, 2014