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drednm

MARION DAVIES for STAR OF THE MONTH

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Yes, I'm posting more about MARION DAVIES. After 25 years, TCM has still never honored Davies with a SOTM tribute. There is a birthday salute scheduled for January 3 and she has been given a tribute in the August Under the Stars programming. But she's never been SOTM. Davies was featured in the compendium Silent Stars of the Month salute a few years ago and was included in the recent FUNNY LADIES salute. But she's never been SOTM.

Davies starred in nearly four dozen films between 1917 and 1937, transitioning from silent films to talkies. Davies was never an extra, a bit player, a supporting player, or even a leading lady to a male star. She was the star of every feature film she appeared in (with the exception of the all-star Hollywood Revue of 1929).

Davies was named Queen of the Screen (Rudolph Valentino was King) by theater owners in 1924 as the #1 female box-office star of 1923. She's actually referred to by this title in the 1935 short film, Pirate Party on Catalina Isle.

Davies reigned at MGM for a decade along-side other major star actresses (at various times) as Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Mae Murray, Lillian Gish, Jean Harlow, Marie Dressler, Greta Garbo, etc.

MARION-SMALLER.jpg

TCM has access to the following Davies sound films: Ever Since Eve, Cain and Mabel, Hearts Divided, Page Miss Glory, Operator 13, Going Hollywood, Peg o' My Heart, Blondie of the Follies, Polly of the Circus, Five and Ten, The Bachelor Father, The Florodora Girl, Not So Dumb, Marianne, and The Hollywood Revue of 1929.

TCM has access the the following Davies silent films: Show People, The Patsy, Quality Street, The Red Mill, When Knighthood Was in Flower, Beauty's Worth, The Bride's Play, and Enchantment.

... more than enough for a month-long SOTM salute.

 

 

 

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We've had threads about this for years. For some reason, TCM has no interest in focusing on her. It's not because of access. I dont get it.

But then look at Lillian Gish, another MGM actress that still hasnt been chosen SOTM. I dont get that either. Long career. Plenty of films to choose from. Access etc.

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1 hour ago, Hibi said:

We've had threads about this for years. For some reason, TCM has no interest in focusing on her. It's not because of access. I dont get it.

But then look at Lillian Gish, another MGM actress that still hasnt been chosen SOTM. I dont get that either. Long career. Plenty of films to choose from. Access etc.

Maybe they feel honoring them during Summer Under the Star is enough.

Maybe it's because they're not as important as Bette Davis is to the programmers.

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Well, Dean Martin? No Gish or Davies? I think they are reluctant to showcase stars that younger people arent aware of. It's really sad.

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13 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Well, Dean Martin? No Gish or Davies? I think they are reluctant to showcase stars that younger people arent aware of. It's really sad.

Do younger people know much about Dean Martin?

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The shocking thing is that Robert Osborne was a Davies fan and it still never happened. Two TCM program executives I've been in contact with over the years are Davies fans and it still doesn't happen.

My guess is that it's because the younger audience doesn't know who she is. But they know who Kathryn Grayson is? They know who Glenda Farrell is? No offense to Farrell (I like her a lot), but she wasn't an A-list star.

I think it's part of the general shift AWAY from silent films on TCM so that Davies and Gish and Pickford don't get the recognition they deserve. Yet TCM still licenses these films. After all these decades I can't believe Davies is still controversial because of her relationship with Hearst. I mean, who cares about that in this day and age?

TCM honors her in dribs and drabs when neither a drib nor a drab will do.

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Yes, I think that's part of it. THey have little interest in silent films except for Sunday nights. But both of them had long careers in talking films as well. Maybe because their careers as leading ladies didnt last beyond the 30s? I just dont get how some stars have 3 turns already while these 2 (along with some others like Joan Bennett etc.) are still waiting for their first!

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8 minutes ago, drednm said:

I think it's part of the general shift AWAY from silent films on TCM so that Davies and Gish and Pickford don't get the recognition they deserve.

This was my first thought on the topic, as well. Both Davies and Gish would need to air at least a night or two of silents, and that may put off too many viewers. Not I, as I enjoy silents, but I realize that I'm in the very small minority on that.

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16 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Yes, I think that's part of it. THey have little interest in silent films except for Sunday nights. But both of them had long careers in talking films as well. Maybe because their careers as leading ladies didnt last beyond the 30s? I just dont get how some stars have 3 turns already while these 2 (along with some others like Joan Bennett etc.) are still waiting for their first!

Garbo's been Star of the Month three times. Her film career was over by 1941. Half her output was silent films.

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Garbo is different. I think she is better known.

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I'd be interested to know who makes the final decision on this. When they did the Silent Stars of the Month a few years ago, that made sense since they could highlights people who really don't have much chance of ever getting a full SOTM because of their silent films or that the films aren't available. Gish's starring career was mostly in silent films and so were the careers of Pickford and Swanson. Davies has 15 or 16 talkies available (and they've all been shown on TCM). They could get a really good mix and show the range of her talent as well as the length of her starring career. Davies was starring in films long before Garbo or Crawford or Shearer and she outlasted Pickford and Swanson and the Talmadge sisters in (not counting Swanson's incredible comeback in 1950).

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1 hour ago, TopBilled said:

Garbo's been Star of the Month three times. Her film career was over by 1941. Half her output was silent films.

Also during the focus on female directors TCM has shown night long slots of silent films. Usually TCM is good with showing more obscure, less well know silent films. 

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5 minutes ago, Gershwin fan said:

Also during the focus on female directors TCM has shown night long slots of silent films. Usually TCM is good with showing more obscure, less well know silent films. 

Right...so I don't buy this as a bias against silent films. 

They'll get around to honoring Marion Davies. It just requires patience and time.

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The women-directed silent films shown recently coincided with the release of those movies, and others, on a  Blu-Ray/DVD set. The channel can, and has in the past, make deals with distributors to lease films that will be released on home media at a reduced rate, since the broadcast is acting as a de facto advertisement. Thus, the showing of those particular silents were subsidized. 

As for being patient, I believe drednm has waited 24 years, so his bringing up his request again seems reasonable.

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27 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Right...so I don't buy this as a bias against silent films. 

They'll get around to honoring Marion Davies. It just requires patience and time.

I don't have another 25 years to wait... LOL

Davies is ignored also as a pioneer filmmaker. Yes she only wrote the scenario for her first film (there was a blurb in the trade papers of the day about her writing another film, but I don't think anything came of it), but from 1919 on she produced or had a hand in producing most of her films. She sometimes received credit but most often did not. these were thru her Marion Davies Film Corp and Cosmopolitan Productions. She did not direct any films.

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TCM borrowed the Star of the Month idea from AMC. In the 1980s AMC began this tradition of honoring one star each month and showing a wide selection of their films. The old AMC also printed a monthly magazine, another idea TCM borrowed, where the month's star graced the cover. I remember this because my grandparents, who introduced me to classic films, subscribed to AMC's magazine. Not long ago I looked on eBay and found some copies of the AMC magazines that were published in the 80s and 90s. One indicated Audrey Hepburn was AMC's Star of the Month. So we know that in addition to the times TCM has honored her, AMC also honored her. I wonder how many silent film stars AMC featured as Star of the Month.

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I have no memory of AMC ever broadcasting silent films, but I suppose they must have.....

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28 minutes ago, drednm said:

I have no memory of AMC ever broadcasting silent films, but I suppose they must have.....

Yes, I'm sure they did. Most likely Charlie Chaplin was a Star of the Month at one point on the old AMC. Meaning something like SHOW PEOPLE would have aired.

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The point of TCM is to introduce these "obscure" actors to the masses.

Until TCM..I had no idea who Kay Francis was or that she was the highest paid actress in the 1930s.

Marion Davies was quite talented and a disservice was done to her by the portrayal of her in Citizen Kane.

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10 minutes ago, Arteesto said:

The point of TCM is to introduce these "obscure" actors to the masses.

Until TCM..I had no idea who Kay Francis was or that she was the highest paid actress in the 1930s.

I'm sure some of Kay Francis' films aired on the old AMC with introductory and closing remarks that discussed who she was.

We tend to see these films more on TCM, because the Warner Brothers catalogue is in the Turner library and she was under contract to Warners for many years. But she was also under contract at Paramount in the late 20s and early 30s. I've only ever seen two of her Paramount titles broadcast on TCM (THE COCOANUTS because it's a Marx Brothers film and FOR THE DEFENSE).

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4 minutes ago, Arteesto said:

The point of TCM is to introduce these "obscure" actors to the masses.

Until TCM..I had no idea who Kay Francis was or that she was the highest paid actress in the 1930s.

Marion Davies was quite talented and a disservice was done to her by the portrayal of her in Citizen Kane.

I remember when Kay Francis was SOTM. The comments were awash with people who had never seen her films and Francis won many new fans that month. There's always someone new to discover on TCM ... or that's the way it should be.

I always find it interesting to see how stars changed their looks and images over the years, and Marion Davies is a perfect example. She went from frizzy haired heroine of the teens to sleek flapper of the 20s and then morphed into an MGM glamour blonde in the 30s. Look at how Joan Crawford and Bette Davis morphed over the years .... or Barbara Stanwyck.

 

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4 minutes ago, drednm said:

I remember when Kay Francis was SOTM. The comments were awash with people who had never seen her films and Francis won many new fans that month. There's always someone new to discover on TCM ... or that's the way it should be.

I always find it interesting to see how stars changed their looks and images over the years, and Marion Davies is a perfect example. She went from frizzy haired heroine of the teens to sleek flapper of the 20s and then morphed into an MGM glamour blonde in the 30s. Look at how Joan Crawford and Bette Davis morphed over the years .... or Barbara Stanwyck.

Do you think that's part of the problem here-- that Davies did not have the same kind of career longevity that Crawford, Davis and Stanwyck had? Also those other women did television which kept them relevant to a new generation in the 60s, 70s and beyond. But Davies was largely forgotten, except for the connection to Hearst and CITIZEN KANE, during those same years.

Lillian Gish kept working in films, up to the mid-1980s, and her legendary status was assured. Pickford's in a class by herself, usually cited as the patron saint of female pioneers in the movies.

By comparison Davies seems to have fallen through the cracks.

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A lot of stars of that era were gone (one way or another) by the time TV came. The only exposure they had was if their old movies were shown. I remember a Boston station used to show a Sunday afternoon movie (those were the days) and I'm sure that Davies and Francis and a lot of others were shown. It was until the "home theater" revolution of the 70s (?) with VHS and then DVD that we started to see real revivals with lots of films available. The Warner Archive Collection has been a gem. The rise of AMC and TCM and Fox Movie Channel also made all kinds of interesting stuff available. What a wonderful age we live in when all of a sudden we have access (one way or another) to all these great old movies. There was like a 20-year black hole when these old stars were totally forgotten just because their films were no longer available.

Even by the time KANE came out, Davies had been off the screen for 4 years. In those days, with 400 movies being released every year, 4 years was a really long time. And it's not as if people could run out and see a Davies film after KANE. Another 3 decades went by before they started to become available again.

Same thing happened to stars during WW II when they put their careers on hold to entertain the troops. Audience loyalty changes really fast. But they didn't have KANE bashing their careers.

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8 minutes ago, drednm said:

A lot of stars of that era were gone (one way or another) by the time TV came. The only exposure they had was if their old movies were shown. I remember a Boston station used to show a Sunday afternoon movie (those were the days) and I'm sure that Davies and Francis and a lot of others were shown. It was until the "home theater" revolution of the 70s (?) with VHS and then DVD that we started to see real revivals with lots of films available. The Warner Archive Collection has been a gem. The rise of AMC and TCM and Fox Movie Channel also made all kinds of interesting stuff available. What a wonderful age we live in when all of a sudden we have access (one way or another) to all these great old movies. There was like a 20-year black hole when these old stars were totally forgotten just because their films were no longer available.

Even by the time KANE came out, Davies had been off the screen for 4 years. In those days, with 400 movies being released every year, 4 years was a really long time. And it's not as if people could run out and see a Davies film after KANE. Another 3 decades went by before they started to become available again.

Same thing happened to stars during WW II when they put their careers on hold to entertain the troops. Audience loyalty changes really fast. But they didn't have KANE bashing their careers.

Your second paragraph is interesting-- what would have happened if she had starred in a new film after 1941? Would she have been able to capitalize on the publicity of Welles' film? Or would any new effort have been attacked to the point where it came off as Susan Alexander Kane's latest flop? 

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Yes, another 25 years of time? LOL. I think Garbo is unique, in that she's the only star with a good number of silent films on her resume who can command repeat SOTMs because she was a huge star of the Golden Age and unlike any other from her time. (of course the fact she worked solely at MGM helps too...)  How many stars could get away with one name recognition? Even used in the credits!

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