Beverly of Graustark (1926) a bluray review


Bluray Cover Art

It is no secret that I am a big fan of Marion Davies. Been a fan since I first saw Show People and read Fred Lawrence Guiles 1974 biography. Thanks to several Kickstarter projects over the last several years, Marion Davies is undergoing a rediscovery and a renaissance, long overdue. Speaking of LONG overdue, a new biography of Marion Davies will be published this fall by University of California Press. Written by my friend Lara Gabrielle and entitled Captain of Her Soul The Life of Marion Davies is a book I am anxiously awaiting and available for pre-order. You can follow the book and Lara at the Facebook page here.

The most recent release by Ben Model and his Undercrank Productions is the 1926 film Beverly of Graustark was Kickstarted in a short window backer project and was fully funded in just a few hours (Backer #59 for me). Ben Model has a good history of providing a terrific product, excellent film(s), wonderful score, good design and if there is enough $$ in the kitty some nice extras or restoration addons.

Beverly of Graustark was Marion Davies only release for 1926 and it is good fun from start to finish. It is a film in which we get Davies in male drag for much of the film. Due to an accident skiing, her soon to be crowned cousin Oscar (Creighton Hale) is laid up for a few days. Beverly pitches in to save his place on the throne by impersonating him. Attacks on Oscar's life ensue as he/she travels to Graustark to lay claim for the crown. Saved from General Marlanax's (silent cinema's perennial arch villain par excellence Roy D'Arcy) thugs by patriotic goat herder Dantan (Antonio Moreno) she brings him along as a personal bodyguard.  Marlanax, is immediately suspicious there is something fishy about Prince Oscar and he is hell-bent to figure it out. "Oscar" is smitten with Dantan and steals a gown from Marlanax's girlfriend Carlotta (Paulette Duval) to get the chance to flirt with Dantan. Much confusion occurs as Beverly switches back and forth between her dueling personas, including a duel or two and Marlanax gets his comeuppance and the real Oscar claims the throne and Dantan claims Beverly.

The print originates from the Marion Davies Collection at the Library of Congress. Bless Miss Davies for donating her 35mm prints to the Library and for them to be held and preserved. The bluray is a brand new 4k scan and includes the delightful added bonus of the final bit of film in the two color Technicolor process. Most of this film is in really excellent shape, crystal clear. The final bit in color is less well preserved, more scratches can be seen. That said, the color is lovely and Davies looks really gorgeous here, the make up looks more natural. Antonio Moreno does not look bad either. :-)

Ben Model composed and plays the musical accompaniment which is a digital theater organ score. I LOVE theater organ when watching silent films, so this is a big plus for me. I am a fan of Ben's scoring in general, he is always sensitive to the action on the screen and whether it is piano or organ, always hits just the right note. 

In short, this is a must have in my opinion. A delightful 77 minutes of Marion Davies under the direction of Sidney Franklin and with a real rapport with leading man Antonio Moreno. While not reaching the heights of my favorite of her silents 1928's The Patsy, this movie is great fun and a showcase for its star. You can see how charming Davies was on screen and she is still so very modern, nothing is overdone.

If you are on the fence or kicking yourself because you missed the Kickstarter, fear not, this is available for pre-order over at Deep Discount DVD (and will be on amazon, no doubt). 

***** stars - highly recommended.


Karen said…
This one sounds like lots of fun -- I will have to put it on my watchlist. I've only seen Marion Davies in a couple of films, but something about her has always fascinated me and I'm always looking for more of her vehicles.

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