Gloria Swanson worked hard in comedies before being recognized by Cecil B. DeMille as a serious actress. By the early 20s Gloria was an international star. Teh Great Moment,directed by Sam Wood who handled her next nine films, at Paramount, was the first in which her name appeared above the title. In 1922 she was with Valentino in Beyond the Rocks, and the following year negotiated a new contract with Paramount which gave her a say in the choice of roles. She insisted on Zaza, directed by Allan Dwan,playing a gamine-like Parisienne soubrette, and racing through an an outlandish parade of costumes. Careful to keep her fans guessing, she played a gum-chewing shop girl in Dwan's Manhandled and then made a Ruritian romance, Her Love Story, wearing a bridal outfit which was said to have cost $100,000. At the end of 1924 she made Madame Sans-Gene in Paris. She returned in triumph with a new husband, the Marquis de la Falaise de la Coudraye. At the New York premiere of Madame Sans-Gene, a gigantic Stars and Strips and Tricolour flew over the Rivoli Theater, while the entire facade was filled with Swanson's name in lights. making a royal progress across America, she wired ahead to Paramount, "Am arriving Monday with Marquis. Arrange ovation." It was proof, if proof was needed, of her early vow that, "when I am a star, I will be every inch and every moment the star.Everyone from the studio gate man to the highest executive will know it."
In 1926 Paramount offered to renew Swanson's contract at a fabulous $18,000 per week, But the star wanted to produce her own pictures and, funded by her then lover, Joseph Kennedy, she went to United Artists at $20,000 per week. She indulged her passion for extravagance in her first independent production, The Loves of Sunya in 1927, but then met her match in Erich Von Stroheim, who directed the ill-fated Queen Kelly. Von Stroheim spent $600,000on this baroque pean to sado-masochism before Swanson pulled the plug. Undaunted she made Sadie Thompson in 1j928, and then The Trespasser, her fist talkie.