Somerville Theatre to salute silent screen icon Marion Davies with author appearance, book-signing, vintage film screening
Marion Davies was so much more than the companion to William Randolph Hearst. Hear from the author of a new Davies biography as she introduces us to the real Marion before a screening of the silent film Show People (1928), complete with live score. Lara Gabrielle will introduce the film, speaking about Davies’ multi-faceted life, which included significant work in the fields of entertainment, business, and charity. She will also sign copies of her new Davies biography, ‘Captain of Her Soul,’ which will be available through Porter Square Books of Cambridge, Mass.
Show People directed by King Vidor, shows Marion Davies at the height of her 1920s popularity as a screen icon. It is widely considered to be Davies’s greatest film. The light-hearted story follows Peggy Pepper (Davies), a beauty queen from small-town Georgia who hopes to break into the movies as a dramatic actress. William Haines plays Billy Boone, lead actor at a slapstick comedy studio where Pepper lands her first opportunity.
Can a young actress yearning for drama survive the indignity of pies in the face? When her big chance finally comes, will it mean sacrificing her growing friendship with Billy? And can Billy rescue the fun-loving Georgia girl from a studio that invents a whole new persona for her as a serious actress, descended from European royalty?
Will low comedy win out over high drama? In pursuing that question, Show People pokes fun at Hollywood phoniness and the culture of celebrity worship that had already emerged by the 1920s. Show People also offers rare behind-the-scenes glimpses of movie-making at the very end of the silent period, when studios were rushing to prepare for sound.
“They knew an era was ending, and ‘Show People’ is kind of a Valentine to the whole silent film experience,” said Jeff Rapsis, who will accompany the screening. “It’s a love letter to all the craziness that went into creating the movie business.”