27 November 2004 | drednm
A Marion Davies Mega-Hit
This 1922 production (now restored) was at the time the most expensive picture ever made. It was also a major box-office hit. Marion Davies plays Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII and intended bride of old Louis of France. But she's in love with the dashing Charles Brandon (Forrest Stanley). After Brandon is framed for murder, Mary agrees to bargain with Henry: he'll spare Brandon's life if she willingly marries old Louis. She counters that she will agree if she can choose her second husband. Henry agrees.
Mary goes off to France to marry old Louis (William Norris) but his nephew and heir (William Powell) has designs on beautiful Mary. After old Louis dies, the nephew pounces on Mary, but she escapes with Brandon's help in a race across France with an army in pursuit.
The breathtaking restoration on this film, with the original tinting scheme and digital hand-coloring restored, is a great achievement, one that lets us view this film as it was seen in 1922. The fabulous sets by Joseph Urban and costumes by Gretl Urban Thurlow make for a sumptuous film experience that enhances the exciting story of medieval court intrigue.
Marion Davies is nothing short of superb as Mary Tudor. She is willful, impetuous, determined, and throws herself into the role of the princess who, at one point, masquerades as a boy in an attempt to escape the English court of Henry. Forrest Stanley is a suitable Brandon, Lyn Harding is impressive as Henry. William Norris is terrific as old Louis. William Powell is appropriately oily as the king's nephew. Johnny Dooley plays the court jester who has an important scene.
Others include Ruth Shepley as Jane, Theresa Maxwell Conover as Queen Catherine, Flora Finch as a lady of the French court, Ernest Glendinning as Caskoden, Pedro de Cordoba as Buckingham, Arthur Forrest as Wolsey, Gustv von Seyffertitz as the soothsayer, Paul Panzer as captain of the guards, and William Kent as the court tailor. Nicely directed by Robert Vignola.
This is first and foremost a Marion Davies film, and she is spectacular. This new restoration (July 2107) is a must-see film for all fans of Davies in particular and silent films in general.