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MARION DAVIES --ACTRESS!!
on November 26, 2007
For many years Orson Welles and his opus CITIZEN KANE clobbered the career and talent of screen legend Marion Davies. NO MORE. Fred Lawrence Guiles and his superior MARION DAVIES put the star back in the limelight that was robbed from her so long ago.
With careful research and excellent storytelling ability Mr. Guiles unfolds the story of Marion Douras from Brooklyn to Marion Davies icon. The reader sees her rise from the Ziegfeld Follies to the Queen of silent and early talkie Hollywood.
Mr.Guiles has left no stone unturned as he shows that Miss Davies was not at all like her fictional counterpart Susan Alexander in CITIZEN KANE. The one impression that the reader comes away with after completing this book is that Miss Davies was a very gifted comedienne, as was pointed out in the non-Hearst press of the day. Her lover of over three decades, William Randolph Hearst, put her in front of the cameras, but it was a testament to Miss Davies comedic ability that she enchanted the public. There is a wonderful and complete filmography at the end of the book--complete with cast, credits, profit/loss and reviews.
Mr. Guiles also gives great coverage to Miss Davies years as a grand Hollywood hostess at Hearst's castle San Simeon. The "Golden Days" of Hollywood come alive as the author chronicles party after party with guests lists that included Jean Harlow, Norma Shearer, Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, Constance Bennett, etc.--great stars all.
The author's portrait of Miss Davies is not all sunshine and roses. Mr. Guiles also covers the actress' alcoholism, her possible affair with Charlie Chaplin (among others) and the old chestnut as to whether Miss Davie's niece Patricia Lake was actually the love child of Davies and Hearst.
There is a certain poignancy in the story as Hearst starts to fade and Miss Davies stands helplessly by as the only man she ever truly loved lay dying. From Hearst's death to Miss Davies own a decade later the story takes on a "Sunset Boulevardesque" tone a Miss Davies seems to be lost in a world that no longer wants her nor cares for her.
This book is a must for anyone interested in silent Hollywood of even movies in general. MARION DAVIES is a movie star biography in the grandest order. Written with sympathy, yet objectivity, it evokes an era that is sadly long gone. More importantly it brings to life one of the most effervescent silent screen stars ever and rights a terrible wrong that was allowed to go unchallenged for decades.
-----Michael J. Powazinik