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Slideshow

THE PATSY

Sunday, October 9
3:40

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♪ Live piano accompaniment by Steve Sterner 

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U.S., 1928
Directed by King Vidor
Starring Marion Davies, 
Marie Dressler, Lawrence Gray
35mm print courtesy Library of Congress. Approx. 77 min.

In Vidor’s unsung comedy, flapper Cinderella Marion Davies (“Filmland’s Funniest Female” – Punch) is bullied by dragon-like mom Marie Dressler, and takes on a self-help “personality development,” wickedly imitating screen sirens Mae Murray, Pola Negri, and Lillian Gish along the way.

“Vidor, having seen Marion’s persona at parties and get-togethers at San Simeon, felt that her gift for impressions needed to be introduced to the world. She was a phenomenal mimic, with an ability to do imitations of movie stars and the people in her life with a devilish accuracy that left friends rollicking with laughter. ‘Why don’t we forget the play that’s written and let Marion do as she does?’ he asked W.R., who left the film in Vidor’s hands. In THE PATSY, Marion imitates Mae Murray, Lillian Gish, and Pola Negri with cutting accuracy. ‘We just put those things in the script,’ remembered King Vidor, years later. ‘A lot of that stuff, especially in silent pictures, you can sort of make up as you go along . . . . particularly someone like she was . . . . And that’s why that picture has such sheer delight. She wasn’t pretending to be anybody. In both THE PATSY and SHOW PEOPLE, she was just being herself all the time, kidding and laughing, and we put in all the things that she did.’ The results are hilarious, and THE PATSY stands as one of Marion’s greatest films.” — excerpted from Captain of Her Soul: The Life of Marion Davies by Lara Gabrielle

Film Forum