Madame DuBarry | Chicago Reader

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Released in the U.S. as Passion, this 1919 historical epic helped establish the international reputation of German director Ernst Lubitsch, though fans of his Hollywood classics (The Shop Around the Corner, To Be or Not to Be) will find little of their wit here. Silent star Pola Negri plays a fetching Parisian seamstress who abandons her sweetheart to become Louis XV's mistress; after the revolution her old beau is the only thing that stands between her and the guillotine. With a running time of 129 minutes, this is so overplotted that the intertitles threaten to overwhelm the actors, but Lubitsch's handling of them is unusually sophisticated for the era.

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