Though Marion Davies is best known as the William Randolph Hearst's mistress, she was also an excellent actress. A trio of her lesser known films are begin released by Undercrank Productions including When Knighthood was in Flower [review here], The Bride's Play, and this film, 1922's Beauty's Worth. A light comedy, the film is enjoyable and fun and Marion Davies is delightful.
Prudence Cole (Davies) is a young girl who is being raised by her two maiden aunts. Her guardians are strict Quakers "to whom the whole Twentieth Century is a work of Satan." Needless to say, it's a quiet lifestyle.
When Prudence's childhood friend, Henry, comes for a visit with his mother the two have a great time catching up after being apart for years. At the end of the visit Henry's mother invites Prudence up to Haven-on-the-Sea, a resort where they spend the summers. The aunts grudgingly accept, and Prudence is off to have some fun and try to woo Henry into proposing to her.
Things at the resort are not what Prudence had expected. Having lived a sheltered life, the activities and dress of the young wealthy people she's associating with are strange to her. And her Quaker outfits are equally strange to them. The snobs in the group make fun of Prudence constantly, and she realizes that she just doesn't fit in. That changes when she's asked to invite a standoffish artist, Cheyne Rovein (Forrest Stanley), to oversee a game of charades. Rovein does not go for the frivolity and mindless fun of his peers, he'd much rather paint and be productive.
Rovein sees something in Prudence however, a beautiful girl both inside and out, and when he discovers that she's interested in Henry, he sets out to help her. He designs new clothes for her, schools her in how to act, and makes her the star of the charades that he's planning. But after Prudence becomes socially acceptable, will she still want the vacuous Henry?
This was a good film that has some nice moments, even if it was a bit long. The director lets a few scenes run on longer than they should which slows down the action, but this isn't a fatal flaw. It is amusing to see the awkward Prudence interact with the snobs at the resort, but the real treat in this film is the game of charades in the middle. An elaborate, staged production, this isn't an impromptu performance by someone who has had a bit too much to drink. The hotel's guest gather in a theater to see the selected youth's act out a pantomime that has been rehearsed, staged, and choreographed.
Davies really shines in these three mini-plays. At she shows of her skills as a dancer, then she gets to ham it up as a doll under a Christmas tree who has a pair of toy suitors, and finally as a goddess. These three scenes are a lot of fun and show how much screen presence Davies had.
The rest of the film is delightful, if a bit predictable. Still, it's comfortable fun and well worth checking out.
The score, composed and performed by Ben Model, is very good. He has created a fine accompaniment that doesn't distract from the action on screen but rather accentuates it. Being a recent recording, there are no audio defects. A nice sounding disc.
The 35mm print of this movie used for the transfer is surprisingly good. There is very little print damage (though there are some specks is some parts) and no film decomposition. The tones are nice, the image clear, and the level of detail is very good. I was pleasantly pleased with the image quality throughout.
Marion Davies gives a solid performance in this light romantic comedy. The newly composed score fits the film well, and the print used to make the DVD is really outstanding for a film from 1922. This gets a strong recommendation.