Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Silence is Golden: The Patsy (1928)

The Patsy features the charming Marion Davies as Patricia Harrington, the much harried and annoyed younger daughter of Ma and Pa Harrington. Constantly provoked to point out how unfairly she is treated by her sister Grace (Jane Winton) and mother (Marie Dressler), Pat finds little consolation in her father's (Dell Henderson) defenses as he ofter overruled by Ma Harrington. Pat is madly in love with Tony Anderson (Orville Caldwell) who is Grace's suitor. She knows grace is just stringing him along and longs to be the center of Tony's attention. She gets that chance when Billy (Lawrence Gray) breezes into town. With Grace giving Tony the slip, Pat reveals to him that she is in love with a guy who doesn't even know she exists. Ever helpful Tony gives her some tips on how to gain a personality- leading Ma Harrington to believe her daughter has gone insane. With Pa's advice to keep up the act, Pat finds that she catered to my Ma and even slips in a kiss with Tony who then discovers he's chasing the wrong sister. When Grace finds out, she threatens to expose Pat's lie about being in love with another man- as Tony hates liars, Pat concedes and let's Grace wheedle another date out of Tony. Pa, seeing Pat's misery offers up that jealousy may bring Tony around so, Pat tries to woo Billy. When she gets no response from him, she calls on Tony to "rescue" her from Billy's "attentions" which Tony promptly does but not without admonishing her for liking someone such as Billy.
defeated, Pat returns home with Grace who tells the sordid tale much to Ma Harrington's dismay. Pa Harrington takes this opportunity to let his wife know he will no longer tolerate her incessant complaining and whining and threatens to leave though he truly loves her. The film ends with everyone seeing the error of their ways and making up- with Pat getting her man.

Davies doing wonderful impersonations of Swanson and Gish.


King Vidor originally did not want to do a film with Marion Davies, thinking her flighty and trivial due to her connection with Hearst. However, once he was invited to San Simeon and met Davies, he found her to be refreshingly intelligent and quite humorous, thus prompting him to direct her in the three "Vidor Comedies", The Patsy, Show People (1928), and Not So Dumb (1930).

The Patsy is also rumored to be a turnaround film for Marie Dressler whose career had hit a slump by 1928. According to Allan Dwan, he saved her life. While dining on her last meal at The Ritz, Dwan said he spotted her and thought she would be perfect for the part of Ma Harrington. He had a note sent over, and Dressler asked him up to her room and admitted to him that she had just eaten her last meal and was going to throw herself out of her hotel window when she got his note. Whether true or not, The Patsy was a success and Dressler's career was on the go once more.

Tonight on TCM!
To Be or Not to Be (1942) A troupe of squabbling actors joins the Polish underground to dupe the Nazis. Cast: Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack, Felix Bressart Dir: Ernst Lubitsch

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