A Miss

Unable to see everything showing at the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival — adding up the price of tickets and the price of transport, I decided to skip last night’s show of TOGETHER, Lorenza Mazzetti’s 1956 film, described by Lindsay Anderson as an early example of Free Cinema, and tonight’s showing of King Vidor’s THE PATSY, starring Marion Davies. This decision was something of a wrench! Maud Nelissen is doing the music for the latter, along with Filmorchestra The Sprockets, and she was behind the greatest musical/cinematic spectacle of my life, Von Stroheim’s THE MERRY WIDOW in Bologna.

But I have to save money somewhere, and schlepping to Bo’ness for one movie would not be economical. Plus I have seen THE PATSY on the big screen before (though I’ve totally forgotten WHERE — I think it must have been Edinburgh Film Fest and it must have been over a decade ago. I know I saw THE SCARLET LETTER).

THE PATSY is a charmer. Maybe less ambitious than SHOW PEOPLE but funnier. Marion gets to freak out wicked stepmother Marie Dressler by pretending to be crazy, and she also performs (on the slenderest excuse) drop-dead accurate parodies of rival movie stars ~

Gloria Swanson. Mae Murray.

Lillian Gish.

Pola Negri.

This was almost a standard bit at the time — doesn’t Colleen Moore do more of less the same thing in ELLA CINDERS? Or maybe Beatrice Lillie in EXIT SMILING? I wonder how those parodied took it?

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3 Responses to “A Miss”

  1. bensondonald Says:

    Don’t think Moore does any impressions in “Ella Cinders”, unless you count a trick shot where her eyes out-Turpin Ben.

    The “motivation” for the Patsy scene is kind of amusing: She’s trying to arouse a guy so the hero can save her. But the guy’s suffering through a hangover; her efforts only increase his suffering. Maybe he thinks he’s hallucinating her various guises. The device was recycled in a Mexican Spitfire movie — Lupe Velez makes herself at home in a playboy’s bed, cheerfully explaining her newly jealous husband will be along directly to rescue her and beat the tar out of him. This being well after the precode days, the playboy frantically tries to evict her rather than ask for the hubby’s ETA.

  2. I think the Moore movie is Synthetic Sin, in that case, where she again plays a star-struck teen. I’ve definitely seen her impersonating her peers…

    Here’s the eyes trick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUCVeM0_hsY

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