Marion Davies & Clara Bow on TCM

Clara Bow
Clara Bow, known as the “It” Girl, stars in the appropriately titled It

Part III of Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood, “The Dream Merchants,” narrated by Christopher Plummer, continues today (a rerun of Monday's presentation) on Turner Classic Movies (website).

Accompanying features and shorts focus on 1920s comedies.

Charles Chaplin's The Pilgrim is on right now. Following “The Dream Merchants,” TCM will show two Buster Keaton comedies: the short One Week and the feature Steamboat Bill Jr.; Harold Lloyd's best-remembered effort, Safety Last!; the Marion Davies vehicle Show People; the Clara Bow vehicle It (in which Gary Cooper has a bit part); and the Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle short Fools' Luck.

I'm usually not a silent-comedy fan. I've seen nearly all of the movies listed above, and my favorite by far – despite its dragged-out last third – is King Vidor's Show People, in which Marion Davies does a hilarious impersonation of Gloria Swanson. William Haines, then one of MGM's top male players, is her leading man.

Haines starts out quite well, but as so often happens in his movies, he becomes increasingly obnoxious and grating as the film progresses. (One major exception: The Adventures of Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford, in my view Haines' best movie and most restrained performance.)

Back to Show People: Agnes Christine Johnston, Laurence Stallings, and Wanda Tuchock's screenplay takes the viewer inside the gates of a major late-'20s Hollywood studio – more specifically the once-glorious, now-bankrupt MGM.

That in itself is enough for me to strongly recommend this late silent comedy. (More on Show People.)

My one complaint about this third installment of the Moguls & Movie Stars presentation is the absence of Fred Niblo's Ben-Hur (1925) on the TCM schedule.

I know, I know, today the focus is on comedies, but on Monday several dramas were shown.

Ben-Hur, after all, was the supreme studio production of the 1920s, and a landmark in the history of both Hollywood and MGM, which was created in large part because Goldwyn Pictures (the middle “G”) was floundering thanks to Ben-Hur's out-of-control production costs.

Starring Ramon Novarro, Ben-Hur also happened to become the biggest worldwide box office hit until Gone with the Wind fourteen years later.

Schedule and synopses from the TCM website:

7:00pm Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood: Dream Merchants, The (2010)

8:15pm One Week (1920)
Cast: Buster Keaton

8:45pm [Silent] Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)
In this silent film, a student tries to win a rival captain's daughter after taking over his father's riverboat.
Cast: Buster Keaton, Ernest Torrence, Tom Lewis, Tom McGuire Dir: Charles F. Reisner BW-69 mins

10:00pm [Silent] Safety Last! (1923)
In this silent film, a small-town boy out to impress his girlfriend scales a skyscraper in the big city.
Cast: Harold Lloyd, Mildred Davis, Bill Strother, Noah Young Dir: Sam Taylor BW-73 mins

11:30pm [Silent] It (1927)
A shop girl turns party girl to land her boss.
Cast: Clara Bow, Antonio Moreno, William Austin, Jacqueline Gadsdon Dir: Clarence Badger BW-77 mins

1:00am [Silent] Show People (1928)
In this silent film, a small-town girl tries to make it in Hollywood.
Cast: Marion Davies, William Haines, Dell Henderson, Paul Ralli Dir: King Vidor BW-79 mins

2:20am [Short Film] Short Film: One Reel Wonders: 1925 Mgm Studio Tour (1925)
BW-32 mins

3:00am [Silent] Fool's Luck (1926)
In this silent short, an eviction notice sends a young man on a series of perilous adventures.
Cast: George Davis, Virginia Vance, Jack Lloyd, Lupino Lane Dir: Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle BW-15 mins

Marion Davies & Clara Bow on TCM © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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