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Not So Dumb

Not So Dumb(1930)

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teaser Not So Dumb (1930)

Marion Davies gives a spirited performance in the 1930 comedy Not So Dumb as Dulcy Parker, a well-meaning but ditzy woman who hopes to help her fiance Gordon (Elliott Nugent) land a lucrative business deal so that they can be married. When Dulcy hosts a weekend party at her California home, she invites Gordon's cantankerous boss Mr. Forbes (William Holden - not the William Holden of Sunset Blvd., 1950) with hopes of impressing him into furthering Gordon's career. However, Dulcy's habit of saying and doing the wrong thing at every turn has completely the opposite effect.

Not So Dumb was based on the 1921 play Dulcy written by George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly which had been a hit on Broadway with star Lynn Fontanne. The play had been made into a film once before as Dulcy in a 1923 silent version starring Constance Talmadge in the title role.

Not So Dumb was billed as "A Marion Davies Production," an offshoot of Cosmopolitan Productions - the company her longtime lover William Randolph Hearst established for her--and released through MGM. It was only Davies' second talking picture after several years of making silents. Davies was worried about transitioning into talkies since she struggled with a stuttering problem. Fortunately, Davies was able to overcome her problem and made many successful sound films without a trace of stuttering.

Not So Dumb was the third film that Marion Davies made with director King Vidor. He had previously directed her in the 1928 silent comedies The Patsy and Show People. While William Randolph Hearst preferred to see Davies in serious roles, Vidor was successful in bringing out her natural talent for comedy and showcased the actress at her best.

Although it ultimately lost money at the box office, Not So Dumb garnered its share of good reviews with critics singling out Davies for her comic talents. "Marion Davies, who is always at her best under the direction of King Vidor, shines in the role of Dulcy," said the New York Times. "...This picture is a bright affair, with singular and unexpected twists. Miss Davies...gives a spirited portrayal of the girl who mixes her words and has strange ideas about the compatibility of week-end guests." The Times went on to praise Not So Dumb's excellent cast of supporting actors as well: "William Holden is capital as the perturbed and furious Mr. Forbes. Mr. (Donald Ogden) Stewart deals out amusement in his odd role. Elliott Nugent is splendid as Gordon and Raymond Hackett is clever as Bill. The lion's share of the credit, however, must go to Mr. Vidor for his fine direction." Variety said, "Miss Davies...continues her light comedy series...And comedy is her forte. Production first class throughout, a typically efficient King Vidor comedy effort...Not So Dumb is a dandy comedy all the way."

The story was filmed once more in 1940 under its original title Dulcy with Ann Sothern in the title role.

Producers: Marion Davies, King Vidor
Director: King Vidor
Screenplay: Marc Connelly, George S. Kaufman (play "Dulcy"), Edwin Justus Mayer (dialogue), Wanda Tuchock (continuity); Lucille Newmark (titles, uncredited)
Cinematography: Oliver Marsh
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Film Editing: Blanche Sewell
Cast: Marion Davies (Dulcinea 'Dulcy' Parker), Elliott Nugent (Gordon 'Gordy' Smith), Raymond Hackett (Bill 'Willie' Parker), Franklin Pangborn (Vincent Leach), Julia Faye (Mrs. Eleanor Forbes), William Holden (Mr. Charles Roger Forbes), Donald Ogden Stewart (Skylar Van Dyke/Horace Patterson), Sally Starr (Angela Forbes), George Davis (Perkins, the Butler)
BW-76m.

by Andrea Passafiume

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