Armand Duval (Valentino), a young and unsophisticated law student, falls passionately in love with Marguerite Gautier (Nazimova), known as Camille, a notorious Parisian courtesan. Together they abandon family and friends to be together.
Although by no means the definitive version of the Alexander Dumas story -- scenarist June Mathis modernizes it and the overall tone is rather cool for such a group of supposedly hot-blooded characters -- this picturization is notable for a number of reasons. To play Camille's lover, Armand Duval, film star Alla Nazimova hired a handsome young up-and-comer named Rudolph Valentino. Valentino's friend Mathis was primarily responsible for this -- although he had already been in a few films, the just-completed FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE would not be released until a few days before Camille began shooting. So the silent screen's biggest heartthrob was still a virtual unknown, as far as Nazimova was concerned. But as Armand he nearly steals the show because he seems so much more natural than Nazimova's stagey Camille -- not to mention the fact that by the film came out, FOUR HORSEMEN had already made him a star. The art direction shows the stylized hand of Natacha Rambova, and it was on this production that she and Valentino met and became lovers. The plot to Nazimova's picture stays close to the book at first -- the glamorous demi-monde gives up her lifestyle for young Armand, then gives him up at the behest of his father (William Orlamond) -- but then the ending strikes a sour note. In every other version of Camille ever filmed, the tuberculosis-stricken courtesan dies in Armand's arms. Here she dies with only Gaston (Rex Cherryman) and Nichette (Patsy Ruth Miller) in attendance -- no Armand! In spite of this huge disappointment, the picture still made money for its releasing studio, Metro. Nevertheless, this was Nazimova's last picture for the company.
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