26 April 2009 | wes-connors
Norma Talmadge Makes an Impression
That this film was reportedly shown at Venice (presumably, in conjunction with the summer's Film Festival) in 1958 makes the possibility of someday seeing "Panthea" tantalizing. Norma Talmadge died in December, 1957, which would seem to confirm that the film was screened, possibly as a tribute to Ms. Talmadge. So, what happened to this print of "Panthea"?
After impressive performances in "A Daughter's Strange Inheritance" (1915) and "The Battle Cry of Peace" (1915), Talmadge began her reign as one of the most acclaimed actresses of the entire silent era. She won a 1915 "Motion Picture Magazine" award as best "Character Woman" for the year (the unusual distinction being the way they differentiated an "Actress" from a "Star" back then). Talmadge was a popular "Triangle" player in 1916. But, the 1917 release of "Panthea" established her as a superstar (with help from producer-lover Joseph M. Schenck, director Alan Dwan, and photographer Harold Rosson).
Contemporary critics lavished praise on "Panthea". Julian Johnson called it "one of the best photoplays in screen history," despite an "ineffective" ending, in "Photoplay" magazine (April 1917), explaining, "Norma Talmadge plays Panthea with a verve, abandon and surety which denominates her queen of our younger silver-sheet emotionalists. There is no woman on the depthless stage who can flash from woe to laughter and back again (like) Talmadge. She is 100% surefire. Rogers Lytton, as the Baron, surpasses all his other efforts. Earle Foxe plays Gerald in psychopathic correctness."
Fortunately, the number of lost Talmadge film reels is not as extensive as was once believed. An impressive number are known to exist (search Greta de Groat's website for an excellent listing); but, they are in need of restoration. The reason so few of Talmadge's films are available, presently, appears to be due to lack of interest (and funds). Hopefully, someone will locate films like "Panthea" (1917), and restore Talmadge's acclaimed "Smilin' Through" (1922).
******** Panthea (1/7/17) Alan Dwan ~ Norma Talmadge, Earle Foxe, L. Rogers Lytton