Rebecca at Taking Up Room and Gill at RealWeegieMidget Reviews are hosting The Odd or Even Blogathon from January 20th to the 23rd. It was a lot of fun to have a flip of the coin settle the topic for the contributors. Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4
Ma Harrington played by Marie Dressler has no favourites between her two daughters. Grace played by glamourous Jane Winton is the favourite for wearing the best clothes, attending the best functions, and moving up the social ladder. The pair have set their sights on handsome young real estate executive Tony Anderson played by Orville Caldwell.
Patricia or "Pat" played by Marion Davies is the favourite when it comes to having someone to treat as a second-class citizen, who does all the work and takes all the grief from the other females in the family. Pat also has her sights set on handsome young real estate executive Tony Anderson. He's a sweet guy and Pat's knight in shining armour.
Pat: "Why do I always get the part of a chicken that goes over the fence last?"
The one person in Pat's corner is Pa Harrington played by Dell Henderson. Pa understands exactly how Pat feels.
Pa to Ma: "Maybe you don't believe it, but I've had a pain in the neck ever since we were married."
Pat confesses to Tony her unrequited affection for a man who doesn't know she exists. Tony, attempting to be kind advises her to "get a personality." Pat feels she does have a personality but tries some self-help books to improve hers. The title that makes an impression is What to Say and When to Say It. She memorizes the pithy bon mots and throws them at her family with no context. Ma is convinced that Pat is off her rocker as there is insanity on her father's side of the family.
Pa to Pat: "Let Ma keep on thinking you're a bit cuckoo and you can do anything you want to."
Pat follows Pa's advice and has a lot of fun doing so. Grace is also having a lot of fun stepping out on Tony with local playboy Billy Caldwell played by Lawrence Gray. Pat also uses Billy as part of her plan thanks to Pa's recounting of a movie plot that impressed him.
Pa to Pat: "I saw the slickest movie last night and the girl in it sure knew her onions."
Initially, the romances between both the older (Ma and Pa) and younger (Pat and Tony, Grace and everybody) generations don't exactly work out as anticipated, but this is a romantic comedy and I will leave it to you as to who gets their way when the dust settles.
The cast is uniformly expert at the comedy craft, making The Patsy a delight. Marion's character of "Pat" is a pro-active Cinderella who engages our sympathies. Orville Caldwell's "Tony" is such a sincere dope that you can't help but like him. Lawrence Gray's "Billy" has a goofy sense of humour that takes the sting out of his trying to steal his pal's gal. Jane Winton's "Grace" is nobody's fool except maybe her own. Dell Henderson's "Pa" displays a resigned dry wit that is quite captivating. Marie Dressler's tyranny as "Ma" could be overwhelming if played by an actress with lesser comedy chops.
Barry Connors' play The Patsy had a successful 245 performance Broadway run in the 1925/1926 season. Ralph Spence (Cracked Nuts, Peach O'Reno) adapted the play for the screen. The movie features many amusing intertitles that seem to match the pace of the popular Jazz Age play.
Marion Davies (or is it Lillian Gish?!) with King Vidor
King Vidor and Marion Davis collaborated on three comedies, The Patsy and Show People in 1928 and Not So Dumb, 1930. Their screen work shows that the pair had a most simpatico sense of humour and working relationship. Show People, like The Patsy, gave Marion a chance to display her wonderful ability to imitate other actresses of the era with unerring precision. The two films also teamed Marion most felicitously with Dell Henderson.
Claiborne Foster starred as "Pat" in The Patsy during its successful Broadway run.