Under the Red Robe (1923)


I hadn’t expected to write much more than a synopsis of Under the Red Robe – as you can see William Powell is billed 10th so his must’ve been quite a minor part. The notices are lukewarm to say the least, Photoplay Magazine describes the picture as ‘a bit draggy’ and Picture Play says that Cosmopolitan ‘spent too much money’ on the film, considering that the cinema going public are now ‘pretty well fed up with the Court of France’.

However, I hadn’t reckoned with the life story of star Alma Rubens – a story that is cautionary in extremis. I wouldn’t be surprised if E! Channel hadn’t made an E! True Hollywood Story about her. By the time Under the Red Robe was released at the end of 1923 Alma was two years into a multiple drug addiction that would see her descend from the pinnacle of Hollywood stardom into the violent desperation that dependency on cocaine, heroin and morphine often causes and which ultimately led to her early death in 1931. 

Her story, which you can read more fully from the references below, was very reminiscent of Barbara Payton and even to a certain extent Amy Winehouse, and I found it both incredibly sad but also very troubling insofar as the entertainment industry continues in this circular pattern of encouraging vulnerable artists to destroy themselves without much evidence of a duty of care other than a very generous cash remuneration. I accept I’m possibly being a little unfair and judgemental here, being a mere civilian, but Alma’s story is incredibly relevant to today and her experience seems sadly familiar.


References/Recommended Reading:

William Powell: The Life and Films – Roger Bryant

Picture Play Magazine, January 1924, p.55

Photoplay Magazine, February 1924, p.17

Screenland Magazine, April 1924

http://immortalephemera.com/11914/alma-rubens-dies-in-1931-mrs-ricardo-cortez/

http://www.seraphicpress.com/silent-star-alma-rubens-i-am-a-dope-fiend-but-not-a-jewess/

http://flickchick1953.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/tragic-stars-alma-rubens.html

http://silenceisplatinum.blogspot.com/2015/02/alma-rubens.html

http://www.silentfilm.org/alma-rubens-a-marked-woman

Advertisements

One thought on “Under the Red Robe (1923)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s