|The Patsy (1928)
Run time: 78 min
Genres: Comedy | Drama | Romance
Director: King Vidor
Writers: Barry Conners, Agnes Christine Johnston
Stars: Marion Davies, Orville Caldwell, Marie Dressler
Release Date: 22 April 1928 (USA)
A hillarious movie from director King Vidor, with Marion Davies AND Marie Dresler! As the perpetually feuding mother and daughter, Dresler and Davies are not only side-splittingly funny, they are actually quite touching. The rest of the film delivers on all these levels as well.
If anybody believes that Susan Alexander Kane was an actual representation of Marion Davies, they aught to watch this film. Marion is a delight to watch, always full of warmth and energy, always beautiful and charming, and constantly surprising. Take for instance a scene in which she spies on her sister and the sister’s boyfriend. Marion, or Pat rather, walks back and forth through the doorway, changing hats and characters, stopping at one point to remark "When in Bagdad, do as the Bagdaddies do!" Or there’s the scene where she barges into an intended conquest’s house and finds him in a state of drunken delirium. In an (unsuccessful) attempt to rouse him (or at least his attention), she goes about the room impersonating a series of popular film stars. First she’s Mae Murray, then Lillian Gish, then Pola Negri. Gloria Swanson’s Chaplin imitation is no match for the brilliance of this scene.
Viewed with a modern audience, this film transcends the generations. Though so much has changed in the many years since it’s conception, so much is still the same. The Patsy is one of the greatest silent comedies, and one of the best comedies to boot, and one of the best silents, that I think I have ever seen.
Davies stars as the put upon sister in this delightful comedy with a soul. The first screwball comedienne, Davies reinvented herself in 1928 in this and her other comic gem, Show People. Davies then launched into sound with Marianne (also excellent). Freed from the stagy costume dramas Hearst loved, Davies found her own voice in these late silent comedies. Davies stars here with Marie Dressler (in a comeback vehicle) as well as Lawrence Gray, Jane Winton (beautiful), Dell Henderson and the oafish Orville Caldwell. The family bickering is fun, with Dame Marie lording it over the household and favoring the beautiful daughter (Winton) to make a good marriage. When Davies, as the Patsy, decides to "get some personality," the house comes down in laughter. As stated elsewhere here, her impressions of Mae Murray, Lillian Gish, and Pola Negri are dead on funny and amazingly accurate. You have GOT to the Marion Davies transform herself into Lillian Gish!Amazing. Her impressions of Murray and Negri are hilarious. Davies was well known for her acid impressions of Hollywood’s grand ladies. One wonders what this trio of stars thought about Davies’ take on them.
Fun all the way and interesting to see handsome Lawrence Gray in a silent film. He was Davies’ singing co-star in Marianne in 1929, her starring talkie debut. You gotta see this and Show People…….
This is an absolutely wonderful film. Everybody is fantastically entertaining and endearing in it, and Marion Davies proves that she is far more than a pretty face. Hearst did not want her to become involved in comedies, believing drama to be far more dignified, and we’re fortunate that she went against his wishes.
In this movie, her incredible comedic talent shines through–her acting ability, mimicry, and overall charm and energy make The Patsy lots of fun for everybody, including (it seems) the cast itself! Definitely one of the best silent films I’ve seen, full of laughs that rely on something other than pure slapstick.
If any has ever doubted that Marion Davies couldn’t act or hold her own against the biggest names of the time need go no further than this film. Her talent along with the always wonderful Marie Dressler made a good film a great film!
Her crowning moment is her dead on impressions. Especially her Lillian Gish. Her comic timing along with her beauty is a win win situation.
A must see for Marion Davies fans.