Motion Picture News March 13, 1926
(Reviewed by George T. Pardy)
ARTISTICALLY this production rates high. It is beautifully photographed and in atmosphere develops and preserves the elusive spirit of the Latin Quarter as portrayed in Murger’s charming stories, shadows and sunshine alternating, but with the sentimental urge predominating and merged in tragedy at the finish. How it will stand at the box office test remains a problem only time can solve. The indications are that it will not appeal to the masses, for the average fan demands a Easter tempo and more force to a plot than can be found in the rather slight narrative depicting the loves of Mimi and her Rodolphe, nor does the starkly unhappy ending, poetically wistful and sweet though it be, rank as a likely commercial factor. Just the same Director King Vidor deserves praise for his delicate handling of a difficult theme, and both Lillian Gish and John Gilbert distinguish themselves highly in the leading roles. A huge and talented supporting cast is in evidence.
Drama. Deals with loves of playwright Rodolphe and Mimi, seamstress, in Paris. He attains fame through her aid, they separate; later she returns and dies.
Excellent work of Lillian Gish and John Gilbert in the leading roles and good support. Daintily effective handling of romance, studio shots, Parisian atmosphere. Fine photography. Scene where Mimi dies.
Feature Lillian Gish and John Gilbert. Bill as effective love story of Paris Latin Quarter, with student life atmosphere and sentimental appeal.
May win favor in cities and big first-run theatres. Lack of decisive action and handicap of unhappy finish hurt its chances in smaller houses.
Poetically framed romance of Latin Quarter, finely photographed, well acted. Sentimentally effective, ends sadly. Has high-brow but not general appeal.
- Mimi ………………….. Lillian Gish
- Rodolphe …………… John Gilbert
- Musette ……………… Renee Adoree
- Schaunard …………. George Hassell
- Vicomte Paul ……… Roy D’Arcy
- Colline Edward ….. Everett Horton
- Benoit …………………. Karl Dane
Adapted from Stories by Henry Murger. Director, King Vidor.
Mimi, poor seamstress, and Rodolphe, struggling playwright, live in a humble Paris rooming-house, get acquainted and become sweethearts. Rodolphe neglects his newspaper work in trying to write a play. He is discharged, but Mimi keeps him in ignorance of the fact, pretending to deliver his articles and bringing back money for which she works. They quarrel and separate. On the night when Rodolphe’s play wins success, Mimi, desperately ill, returns to the old room and dies.
La Boheme (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
LILLIAN GISH and John Gilbert score big personal hits as the leads in La Boheme, a picture founded on Henry Murger’s world-famous stories of the Paris Latin Quarter; which will be given its local premiere at the ….….. Theatre on ….….. It is the enthralling love story of a struggling young playwright and a young seamstress who helps him in his climb to fame, only to die as he achieves triumph. Rich in sentimental values, beautifully acted by Miss Gish, John Gilbert and associate players, this film is unequalled in heart appeal and dramatic power.
A charming idyl of tender love and self-sacrifice, staged amid the glamorous atmosphere of the Paris Latin Quarter.
Lillian Gish and John Gilbert in the most appealing, heart-gripping roles of their careers!
Motion Picture News – March 20, 1926
Newspaper Opinions on New Pictures
“La Boheme”—M-G-M., Embassy, N. Y.
Herald-Tribune : “It can be reported, that the director of ‘The Big Parade’ has made a handsome, tasteful and properly sentimental tragedy of parted lovers that succeeds in capturing a wistful, romantic, half poetic flavor. ‘La Boheme’ has been made with a sensitive feeling for physical beauty, the picture achieves a striking loveliness. The story is told in a straight forward way and the romantic mood is never lost. Miss Gish was excellent, and John Gilbert admirable.”
Telegraph : “There is no fault to be found with the taste and skill of the direction, no chance to cavil at the acting which is uniformly good.”
Times: “Here is a picture in which King Vidor demonstrates that in length there is strength, that is in the length of the episodes. It is a production that is virtually flawless, and one that will do its share to bring the screen to a higher plane. Mr. Gilbert shows throughout his portrayal that he is thinking of his part, you can detect it in his eye, and the same earnest effort is made by Miss Gish.”
Daily News: “Beauty of scene so glorious that it hurts to gaze upon it. A poignant story. Lillian Gish and John Gilbert are two artists who make you know that motion pictures can lie true art. A picnic in the woods on Easter Sunday is a pictorial gem, and the scene where Mimi confesses her love for Rodolphe is a wonderful acquisition to the files of the cinema. Excellent support is given to the two stars by a cast that includes Renee Adoree and Roy D’Arcy.”
World: “There can be for Lillian Gish and John Gilbert nothing but the warmest salutations after what was exhibited last night. King Vidor the director retains his honors without a single provision.”
Evening World: “In ‘La Boheme’ King Vidor has scored another directorial triumph comparable to ‘The Big Parade,’ but comparable only because ‘La Boheme’ too, is one of the truly great pictures. At the Embassy theatre, last night, an audience of celebrities was moved to tears by the simple story of a great love. King Vidor’s direction is all the greater because of the utter dissimilarity of story and method in his two great productions. John Gilbert and Lillian Gish triumphed with Vidor.”
The Post: “John Gilbert’s performance for sheer vitality and brilliance seldom if ever has been equalled on the screen. Altogether ‘La Boheme’ is a creditable production.”
Telegram: “The run of the new picture ‘La Boheme’ ought to be good for a year at the Embassy, for the adherence to the simple love story and the exposition of the two characters is done so finely by Vidor that for whole sequences one forgets that it is a movie at all. Like Sherwood Anderson in prose. Vidor lets his characters reveal themselves. Gilbert is all that one has hoped for, his vocal cords almost seem to pantomime, so clearly does he get the thought across.”
Journal : An enchanted love story, Gilbert is magnificent—the most brilliant actor on the screen, he expresses comedy, rage, tenderness, every emotion with a fiery magnetism. King Vidor has made an artistic production.”
Graphic: “The memory of ‘La Boheme’s, delicate beauty will be with you for many a day. It is like an exquisite bit of poetry —so delightful, so sad, and so real that it hurts. You cannot afford to miss it.”