“The Patsy” is perhaps the precursor to the screwball comedy and Marion Davies does a wonderful job with her comedy in this film. From playing the spunky younger sister who is starry eyed over her sister’s boyfriend Tony, to the comedic side of the actress as she tries to showcase her newfound “personality” in which Ma and Grace Harrington think she is going insane. But possibly the most memorable scenes is when she does her imitation of Lillian Gish, Mae Murray and Pola Negri. According to the New York Times review of the film back in 1928, Davies impersonation infuriated Murray and Negri but delighted Gish.
But Davies was absolutely ravishing in this role. What man can turn down as she looks at the man she loves with her alluring eyes. Needless to say, this is a film that Davies works it, knows how to use the camera to showcase her comedy skills but also to display her emotions and passion.
The performances by Davies is stellar but it helps to have a magnificent performance from Marie Dressler and Del Henderson. As for Jane Winton (who plays Grace), many people may recognize her for a part she did a year earlier for Murnau’s “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans” in which she played “The Manicure Girl”. Needless to say, the movie did enhance the careers of the main characters of the film, with Marie Dressler benefiting from her role and jumpstarting her career to win two consecutive Oscars in 1931 and 1932.
As for King Vidor, the filmmaker does a wonderful job in creating the Yacht Club dance and captures a moment of time of the urban haute bourgeoisie. The film is wonderfully directed and at 77-minutes long, the timing was right and for the most part, it’s an easily accessible silent film for those wanting a romantic comedy.
Overall, “The Patsy” is a fantastic silent film. It may not have the bells and whistles that I would have liked to see but from here on in when it comes to classics, our only way to obtain these titles are through Warner Archive. But if you are looking for a silent film worth purchasing in the archive or a silent romcom, “The Patsy” is highly recommended!