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Zaza (1915)

Zaza (1915) Famous Players Film Co.; Charles Frohman Co. Distributor: Paramount Pictures Corp. Director: Edwin S. Porter and Hugh Ford. Cast: Pauline Frederick, Julian L'Estrange, Ruth Sinclair, Maude Granger, Blanche Fisher, Helen Sinnott, Mark Smith, Charles Butler, Walter Craven. 5 reels. LOST

This film was in the fireproof vault at the Famous Players Studio, and survived a fire that destroyed the building. Unfortunately, time has not been so kind, and the film now appears to be lost. It was remade by Gloria Swanson in 1923 and Claudette Colbert in 1939, both of which do survive.

Still Photo on The Silent Film Still Archive

Review from Variety
Reviews from Moving Picture World

Review from Variety, October 8, 1915

Zaza Pauline Frederick
Dufrene Julian L'Estrange
Madam Dufrene Ruth Sinclair
Cascart Mark Smith
Duc De Brissac Charles Butler
Dubois Walter Craven
Aunt Rosa Maude Granger
Louise Blanche Fisher
Nathalie Helen Sinnott

"Zaza" with its heavy emotional opportunities and association of Mrs. Leslie Carter's name (always bringing David Belasco first to mind) is thrown upon the Strand screen this week by the Famous Players--Charles Frohman Co. (Paramount), as the program mentions. Pauline Frederick is Zaza, the woman of the stage who loved a married man in innocence of his family. It seems a feature somewhat out of the usual run of F.P. subjects, with its theme of illicit sweetness. Zaza's victory for the finish is suggested by a caption that says "Love rules the world," which left the presumption at the finale. Dufrene, after becoming a widower, eventually married her. Mrs. Carter established herself as an actress in the title role of this play some years ago. It was staged by Mr. Belasco and untold encomiums of praise were bestowed upon him at that time as stage director through Mrs. Carter's performance. In the present day, as a feature picture, "Zaza" again interests. The story of the woman who loves and falls is ever new, whenever and however told. And "Zaza" should be as new to this generation, or at least to the average picture goer. There are two big scenes. The first is when Zaza calls at the Dufrene's home in Paris, determined to reveal her relations with Dufrene to his wife, and her changed plan when the Dufrenes' little girl makes friends with her. The other is upon Zaza's return to the villa Dufrene furnished, there to encounter once again the Duc De Brissac, probably prize chaser of the century. Zaza's tantrums in her parlor, with the destruction of the furnishings in her rage, her assault upon the Duc and her general state of mind are likely supposed to be the opening to the apex of emotional playing. Immediately after this furniture smashing exhibition, Dufrene calls on Zaza, for the last visit, to tell her he is leaving shortly for America. Zaza replies, "Yes, I know , your child told me," preliminary to the other but more quiet explosions, firstly by Dufrene and then by his mistress. A year elapses. Dufrene has returned from America--a widower--and Zaza has gone back to the stage. He drops in at the music hall where she is appearing and sees her from the front; sends a note around and she sees him after her "turn" (for Zaza is half of a mixed two-act, with Cascart her stage partner throughout). Zaza notices the mourning band upon Dufrene's coat sleeve. He explains it, and advances toward her, but she waves him aside, with a request to be left to her memories after slipping him the information she shall never have another love. That's when the caption writer grew more optimistic than the principals seemed to be, although Zaza had a quiet smile by herself in a machine on her lonesome way homeward. So the audience had to guess what could have happened had there been another reel. Miss Frederick played Zaza with plenty of "pep" in the lively portions and as much "emotion" for the dramatic passages. Zaza's Aunt Rosa supplied the comedy as an old woman as fond of rum as she was of Zaza's money, and in cahoots with the Duc De Brissac to win Zaza over for the A.K. Julian L'Estrange is Dufrene, giving a somewhat solid or torpid performance for the style of lover Zaza might likely admire as she did. This aided Miss Frederick's playing however. The photography at times seemed to age the characters. It may be a technical point or might have arisen from watching the picture too far to one side of the Strand. Withal though "Zaza" in its name alone and as produced for the screen makes an excellent release for the F.P. It gives also to the F.P. what Zaza got, a little ginger that won't hurt anyone, nor the Paramount Program.


Reviews from Moving Picture World

October 16, 1915

"Zaza," A Subject of Power
Pauline Frederick Outdoes Her Previous Screen Self in This Moving Drama.
Reviewed by George Blaisdell

Small wonder Pauline Frederick was deeply concerned for several days following the fire which destroyed the Famous Players studio in Twenty-sixth street. The possibility that the flames might have obliterated the negatives which recorded her interpretation of "Zaza" easily justified the distress. She was reported to have said that into the making of that picture she had put her soul. Unquestionably she did. Her portrayal of Zaza even more than her work in "The Eternal City," shows the quality of the woman, her all-around emotional power. In "Zaza" we see revealed the soul of the unconventional female--whether of France or anywhere else. To Zaza love is supreme--marriage an incident. The idea of a legal union comes to her only when her thoughts are turned in that direction by the approaching marriage of a friend.

[Omitted, photo of Frederick seated on the floor embracing a man in a chair]

Zaza in the eyes of many men will be considered if not impeccable at least blameless. Unlike her famous dramatic contemporaries, Marguerite Gautier and Fanny Legrand, her affairs of the heart are limited to one man; there was no predecessor and there can be no successor. That the one man, as is discovered in due course, is married, constitutes the tragedy of the story. It is this discovery that furnishes the groundwork for the pathos that marks the latter half of the play.

Miss Frederick shows us a Zaza, who is as intense in her hate, in her desire for revenge, as she is demonstrative in her love; a hate that is stilled in the presence of the man who has deceived her and now scorns her even as it was when confronted by his child when she had gone to Dufrane's home to denounce its head to his wife. Zaza dominates--in the awakening, in the tenderness of the love passages, playful or serious; in the stormy scenes following the revelation of Dufrene's duplicity, in the tearless but none the less great sorrow with which she seem him go out of her life.

Julian L'Estrange as Dufrene must be just what Berton and Simon had in mind when they wrote the story. His is a fine performance. Others that stand out are Maude Granger as Aunt Rosa, Charles Butler as the doddering Duc de Brissac and Mark Smith as Cascart.

On the production size "Zaza" is in the Famous Players best style. Edwin S. Porter and Hugh Ford direct.

August 21, 1915

Zaza (Famous Players--Oct. 4)--The cast: Pauline Frederick, Julian L'Estrange, Ruth Sinclair, Mark Smith, Charles Butler, Walter Craven, Maude Granger, Blanche Fisher and Helen Sinnott.

Zaza is a popular singer in one of the gayest music halls in Paris. She leads a very tempestuous life and is much sought after by the beaux of the city. One night she meets Bernard Dufrene, a man about town, behind the scenes, and after a frivolous flirtation, falls in love with him. It is not long before he establishes her in an apartment where they live happily for several months.

Her infatuation for Bernard is the only real and lasting emotion that Zaza has ever experienced and she dedicates her whole crude nature to the task of making him happy. It is therefore a terrible blow to her to find that Bernard is married and has a little daughter. Stung to the depths of her savage nature by his duplicity, Zaza's first thought is for revenge.

With fiendish accuracy she hits upon the plan of going straight to the wife of her betrayer and announcing herself as his mistress. This she believes the best way of obtaining the vengeance she craves. While still consumed with this passionate hate, she sets out on her mission. However, she meets the little daughter before she has an opportunity of denouncing her lover to the mother of the child.

The sweet simplicity of the child, her ingenuousness and her thorough generosity so touch Zaza that she cannot bear to crush the child under the weight of the scandal that she knows will follow such a disclosure as she is about to make. The daughter therefore saves the father from disgrace.

Totally disillusioned, Zaza now dismisses her lover and returns to the stage. Devoting herself utterly to her art and aided by the steeling power of a personal tragedy, she becomes the idol of Paris. Deprived of her other love, she seeks that of the public. Hearing of her triumphs, Bernard comes to renew his attention to Zaza and she, in the supreme struggle of her life against the overwhelming love she still has for the man, conquers her own emotions and sends him back to his wife and child who are still in ignorance of his double life. Zaza, with Bernard forever dismissed from her mind, devotes herself still more zealously to drama, in which she wins enduring fame.

October 5, 1918

Paramount Reissues Former Product With a Strong Characterization by Pauline Frederick.
Reviewed by Louis Reeves Harrison.

To those who have not seen the pictured version of "Zaza," there is pleasure in store from the remarkable acting of Miss Frederick in the leading role, one of the finest impersonations she has made. It is that of gay Parisienne turned to absorbing love through a dramatic incident in connection with a man she supposes free to love her. It is purely emotional, this intense passion, the more pitiful that is unguided by other than instinct and impulse. The interpretation by Miss Frederick is well worth the study of actresses who attempt to portray French character, for it is pure art, resulting from a highly intelligent grasp of the role and its opportunities. The entire production is above the average of reissues and has what the French call a "raison d'etre," a good reason for being, an entirely good reason for the reissue.

October 12, 1918

The Famous Players-Charles Frohman Co. Present the Emotional Actress, Pauline Fredericks, in a Play Made Famous by Three International Stars.


Zaza Pauline Frederick
Dufrene Julian L'Estrange
Madame Dufrene Ruth Sinclair
Cascart Mark Smith
Duc De Brissac Charles Butler
Dubois Walter Craven
Aunt Rosa Maude Granger
Louise Blanche Fisher
Nathalie Helen Sinnott

Directed by Edwin S. Porter and Hugh Ford.

The Story: Zaza is a music hall star in Paris. She meets Bernard Dufrene and a flirtation develops into an intense love on her part. She is in despair when she discovers that he already has a wife and child. To visit them and announce herself as the mistress of the husband and father is her first idea, but the charm of the child restrains her. She cannot strike the blow and passes off her visit with an improvised excuse. She dismisses Bernard and returns to the stage, where she gains real fame as a dramatic artist. Once more he seeks her, but again the memory of the child saves her to her better self.

Feature: Pauline Frederick as Zaza and Julian L'Estrange as Dufrene.

Program and Advertising Phrases: Mrs. Leslie Carter's Famous Drama, Now Screened with Pauline Frederick the Star.
Superb Photo Presentation of the Century's Dramatic Sensation.
Famous Player Adapts to the Screen an Immortal Stage Success.
Picturizing the Play That Brought First Fame to David Belasco.
Drama of Another Decade Visualized in Modern Screen Settings.
"Zaza" Was a Stage Triumph Before the Screen Was Recognized.

Advertising Angles: This is a play in which Bernhardt, Rejane and Mrs. Leslie Carter have made their mark. It created a furor when first presented in this country at the Garrick Theatre, in New York, and has been played thousands of times by the stars of all degrees of merit. Make strong emphasis on the play, then add that it is the strongest production Miss Frederick has ever had, though one of her earliest, and add that it has been revived as representative of the best this company has ever done.

Advertising Aids: Two each one, three and six sheets. One 24-sheet. Lobby displays, 8x10, 11x14 and 22/28. Cuts from one to three columns on star and production. Advertising lay-out mats. Slides, Press book.

Released September 22.

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Last revised, April 14, 2007