Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Patsy (1928)

Sunday July 29, 4:00pm, SIFF Film Center, Seattle

"When in Bagdad do as the Bagdaddies do!"

Patsy literally gets the backside of the chicken in her household. She begrudgingly cooks, cleans, and wears hand-me-downs from her sister Grace (Jane Winton). Pat's only comfort is her dear old Dad (Del Henderson), who is equally put-upon.

Marion Davies is tearfully funny as the trod upon younger sister in her first film with director King Vidor, The Patsy (1928). As one of the greatest comediennes of the silent era, this is no great surprise. Quite unexpected on the other hand, is the outrageous performance of Marie Dressler as the girls overbearing mother, a vain and socially posturing doyenne. Davies' role as the youngster, mooning over her sister's boyfriend Tony (Orville Caldwell), her attempts to take his advice and develop a "personality" in order to win the man of her dreams - who happens to be Tony himself - followed by everyone's reactions, and an unforgettable demonstration of mimicry, are utterly priceless.

"After all, a caterpillar is nothing but an upholstered worm."

Seattle International Film Festival presents a celebration of films from the archives of the Library of Congress with W.C. Fields in So's Your Old Man (1926) and Marion Davies in The Patsy (1928), featuring live musical accompaniment performed by Donald Sosin. 

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