Pordenone, Italy — The silent film festival festival here screened the comedy “The Patsy,” which stars Marion Davies and Marie Dressler. The King Vidor directed comedy features Davies as a woman (Patricia) who falls in love with her sister’s boyfriend (Tony, played by Orville Caldwell). The continuous laughs stem from the Davies’ acting, the funny situations, and the wonderful performances by Dressler as Ma and Dell Harrison as Pa.
Davies glows as Patricia, as her screwball antics provide most of the movie’s physical delights. But Dressler, Harrison and Jane Winton as Patricia’s attractive sister Grace also add to the slapstick extravaganza. The screen at Pordenone (Teatro Verdi) is really big, and it’s nice to see such a big talent as Davies delight the packed house. The movie’s great cast and Vidor’s comedy direction produce a winning film. Davies reportedly wanted to make more comedies with Vidor, but he didn’t want to be typecast as a comedy director.
The Patsy contains a lot of intertitle cards, with the intention of including as many witty lines from the play (by Barry Connors) as possible. We know Marie Dressler’s voice from her sound pictures, so her lines rang fairly clearly in the back of my head. At one point in the picture, Davies’ character pretends to be looney, which further enlivens the action. The Patsy soars from the first scene, with a good a combination of sharp dialogue and deft physical comedy.