William Fox Presents

A Fool There Was
R: Frank Powell. D: Theda Bara, Edward José, Mabel Frenyear, Runa Hodges, May Allison, Clifford Bruce, Victor Benoit, Frank Powell, Minna Gale. P: William Fox Vaudeville Company. USA 1915

“In the film that established her career as a vampish sex symbol (her film debut), Theda Bara is a dark and mysterious figure unlike any other character the popular screen had yet seen in 1915. While earlier films had addressed the subject, A Fool There Was brought the concept of the female vampire into the popular cinematic limelight with both dread and lust. In the film, Bara exemplified everything that frightened and threatened the upstanding citizens of the upper and middle classes of the civilized societies of the world. Not unlike the ‘vice scare’ films of the early 1930s, there is something of a warning to women everywhere in the film: to be diligent to divert their men from the lures of these dark and evil women. A Fool There Was then was part social commentary and part sexual titillation. And while the sex is nonexistent the film, the implication of forbidden and deadly sex permeates the storyline. Each female viewer recognized the risks of possibility and despised the vamp (the assumed antithesis of each female viewer), and each male viewer recognized the attraction of lust and secretly fantasized (the assumed paradigm of each male viewer). Like martyrs, women of dignity endured the shame of loss to the vampire. Like helpless moths, men of weak will are drawn to the vamp’s deadly flame. The vamp first lures with sex appeal, then destroys without remorse by control of the will. Lure and dominance, dominance then destruction.”
Carl Bennett
Silent Era