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Marion Davies and her mentor, publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst,made the transition from MGM to Warner Bros. with Page Miss Glory (1935), a Cinderellastory. Although Davies was an underrated star and a fine comedienne, mostof her fame was a product of publicity in Hearst's papers,engineered by gossip columnist Louella Parsons. The move to MGM changedHollywood history nonetheless. It was so important to Warners, in fact,that a year later the studio commemorated her stardom there with a TexAvery cartoon based on the film.
Davies made all her films through Hearst's Cosmopolitan Pictures, which formost of her career were produced and released through MGM. Although notambitious for herself, Davies had a strong desire to please her mentor, whowas increasingly dissatisfied with what he perceived as the studio'sfailure to treat his star as a star. In particular, he was miffed that tworoles he had wanted for Davies, Elizabeth Barrett Browning in TheBarretts of Wimple Street (1934) and Marie Antoinette (1938),had been given instead to Norma Shearer, whose husband, Irving G. Thalberg,was the studio's head of production. When they lost the latter role, heentered negotiations with Warner Bros. and, in 1935, moved his CosmopolitanPictures from MGM's Culver City lot to Warners' Burbank location.
This was an important move for Warner Bros. Although most of Davies' filmsbarely broke even, primarily because of the extravagance with which theywere produced, her presence guaranteed the studio preferential treatment inHearst's papers, a big help in drawing Depression-weary audiences intomovie theatres. But those benefits hardly came cost-free. When Daviesrefused to leave her personal bungalow behind, they had to have hertwo-story structure transported across town from MGM. This requiredbreaking it into three parts, loading each part on a truck, and drivingthrough Los Angeles' busy streets at five miles an hour. When one of thepieces fell off its truck, it stood on its side, blocking traffic, forhours as passersby snuck in to see how the other half lived. Once thething had been delivered and reassembled, studio head Jack Warner had tworooms added to it and gave Davies a silver Rolls-Royce just to keep herhappy.
There was one thing nobody would give her, however. During filming shedeveloped a crush on the picture's juvenile star, Dick Powell. Although hewas single at the time, Powell didn't want to risk Hearst's considerable ire for having an affair with his mistress. And Director MervynLeRoy did everything he could to keep them apart, then realized that Powellhimself was too scared to take advantage of the situation. He barely saida word to his co-star off the set.
Needless to say, Davies felt lonely and alienated on the new lot at first.She had left most of her friends behind at MGM, though Warners borrowedcinematographer George Folsey, who knew how to shoot the aging star at herbest, for this and her next film, Hearts Divided (1936). There waslittle problem, however, making the transition from Adrian's trend-settingdesigns at Metro to her new costumer, the equally gifted Orry-Kelly.Before long, Davies had bonded with her female co-stars, Mary Astor andPatsy Kelly. Most days she invited them to her bungalow for "girl talk,"which consisted mainly of gossip and free-flowing champagne. Often duringthe shoot, LeRoy had to release the company early when the three ladiessuccumbed to fits of alcohol-induced giggling. There was a downside totheir playfulness, of course. All three ladies would suffer fromalcoholism in later years, with Kelly's and Astor's careers sidelined as aresult.
None of the publicity generated by Davies' move to Warner's translated intomuch at the box office. Despite some positive reviews, even from papersHearst didn't own, there weren't enough Davies fans to off-set the costlyproduction. Within three years, as each of her Warners films continued tounder perform, Davies would retire from the screen to devote herselffulltime to drinking and tending to Hearst's needs.
Producer: Marion Davies (uncredited)
Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Screenplay: Delmer Daves, Robert Lord
Based on the Play by Joseph Schrank & Phillip Dunning
Cinematography: George J. Folsey
Art Direction: Robert M. Haas
Music: Leo F. Forbstein
Cast: Marion Davies (Loretta Dalrymple/"Dawn Glory"), Pat O'Brien (Dan"Click" Wiley), Dick Powell (Bingo Nelson), Mary Astor (Gladys Russell),Frank McHugh (Ed Olson), Lyle Talbot (Slattery of the Express), Patsy Kelly(Betty), Allen Jenkins (Petey), Barton MacLane (Blackie), Hobart Cavanaugh(Joe Bonner), Lionel Stander (Nick Papadopolis), Mary Treen (BeautyOperator), Irving Bacon (Waiter), John Quillan (Bellboy).
BW-93m. Closed captioning.
by Frank Miller