Thursday, July 25, 2013

SFSFF: The Patsy

I ended my 1st day at the SF Silent Film Festival with The Patsy, a satisfyingly silly romantic comedy starring Marion Davies & directed by King Vidor. The film rolls along smoothly & is entertaining from moment to moment. Even the intertitles are full of snappy one-liners. Marion Davies has a forthright screen presence & is an unaffected comic actress. The audience gleefully applauded her mischievous imitation of Lillian Gish. The jowly Marie Dressler is terrific as Davies's indomitable mother & may be the film's real star.

The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, comprised of piano, violin, cello, clarinet & cornet, played pleasant salon music, setting an appropriate mood for each scene & staying in the background. They were impressively consistent & in tune throughout. They also provided a realistic sound effect for an electric doorbell. The program was introduced by Anita Monga, the festival's Artistic Director, & Mike Mashon, of the Library of Congress, who told us we would be seeing a new print from Marion Davies's own archives & stated that the film displayed "the true Marion Davies." He enjoyed when Ms. Monga asked the audience to sing Happy Birthday to him. The Voice of the Festival announced the name of the wrong band but was vociferously corrected by the audience. The audience clearly enjoyed the show & gave the musicians a standing ovation.

§ The Patsy
USA, 1928,  Director King Vidor, 81 minutes
Musical Accompaniment Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

San Francisco Silent Film Festival
Friday, July 19 at 7:00 pm
Castro Theatre

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