A Fool There Was. 1915. USA. Directed by Frank Powell. Screenplay by Roy L. McCardell, based on the poem “The Vampire,” by Rudyard Kipling, and the play “A Fool There Was,” by Porter Emerson Browne. With Theda Bara, Edward José, Minna Gale. Silent, with musical accompaniment. 78 min.
“A Fool There Was gave the word vamp to the English language. As the incarnation of this aggressive variety of femme fatale, Theda Bara became famous overnight. Apparently the first screen player to be the object of a publicity campaign designed to create artificially a striking personality, this circumspect and demure girl was given out to be half-Arab, a seeress and inscrutably but frightfully evil. Constantly photographed with skulls, with snakes, she was condemned to a career of wickedness through forty subsequent films.” Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation/Park Service, the Film Foundation