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When Knighthood Was In Flower

Undercrank Productions // Unrated // July 25, 2017
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted July 19, 2017 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:



Talented silent actress Marion Davies is best known (when people
recognize her name) not for her movies, but for being the mistress
of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. And of those who do
know of her, many of them probably think of the shrill and
talentless Susan Alexander, a role based on Davies in Orson Welles'
Citizen Kane. Unfortunately, Welles did a huge disservice to
Davies in his masterpiece (something he admitted in later years) and
the truth is that Marion Davies is a very talented actress and a
wonderful comedienne. Hearst did back many of her movies and gave
Davies an incredible amount of publicity in his newspapers. He
preferred her to appear in classy, elegant films, and since he was
writing the checks he got his way (at first). One of the biggest
productions that he backed was the costume drama When Knighthood
was in Flower
, a film concerning the royal family in England
with Marion playing the sister of King Henry VIII.



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Mary Tudor (Marion Davies) is an attractive, energetic, and
headstrong young lady of 16 who is the sister to the ruling monarch
of England, King Henry VIII (Lyn Harding). At the jousting
tournament held to celebrate the anniversary of her birth, Mary
meets a handsome young commoner named Charles Brandon (Forrest
Stanley) it's love at first sight.



Being a princess in the 1500's means that you don't get to pick your
spouse and Henry has grand plans to wed his attractive sister to
someone who can increase the power of England. While there are
several good candidates (none of whom is appealing to Mary) Henry
settles on marring his sister to one of the most powerful monarchs
in Europe, King Louis XII of France (William Norris). So what if
he's old, partially blind, and terribly unattractive?



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Mary is appalled by the idea. She's in love with Brandon, and he's
in love with her, and that's all there is to it. But members of
Henry's court, afraid that Brandon's royal friends will gain too
much power if the two love birds are allowed to wed, frame the young
man for murder. In a desperate gamble Mary and Brandon make plans to
run away and ship off to another country. With her dresses as a man
they run off with Henry's agents in pursuit.



While costume dramas are not my favorite type of film, this one was
pretty good. It was created to be a spectacle and showcase for
Marion Davies and it succeeds on both counts. Costing the enormous
sum of 1.5 million dollars back in 1922, the money can be definitely
seen up on the screen. There are a lot of impressive scenes
including a jousting tournament, a royal wedding, and large feasts,
not to mention a few fun sword fights. Everything from the sets to
the costumes was impressive and it's obvious that no expense was
spared.



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Marion Davies does a very good job too. I really love her comedies
(for some good examples check out The Patsy and Show
People
) but she did a very good job in this dramatic role too.
She's passionate and vivacious without going overboard and plays the
role just right. There are also glimpses of her comedic talent in
several scenes such as when she's buttering up her older brother to
get something that she wants, and when she's being obstinate and
refuses to get out of bed to meet King Louis' envoy.



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The Blu-ray:







This combo pack includes both the Blu-ray and a DVD copy of the film
in a single-width Blu-ray case.



Video:



This movie has been preserved by the Library of Congress from the
only surviving print, a 12-reel read-show edition of the film, and
it looks magnificent. The contrast is very good and the level of
detail is excellent. There are a few minor scratches in places, but
overall this looks much better than a film from 1922 has any right
to look.



Audio:



The score was composed and performed by Ben Model and it is
excellent. The music accents the action on screen without being
over-the-top or pulling the viewer out of the movie. (If you've ever
seen a silent movie where "Tea for Two" or "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"
is played, you'll know what I mean.) The score is executed well, and
there are no audio defects. A very nice sounding film.



Extras:



There are no extras on the discs, but the set does include a 16-page
booklet with an essay by Lara Gabrielle Fowler. It's a nice piece,
going over the production and marketing of the film, as well as
giving some background to Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst.



Final Thoughts:



A grand spectacle from 1922, When Knighthood was in Flower is a
top-notch film that showcases Marion Davies talent and what
Hollywood could accomplish when money was no object. The print is
excellent and the score entertaining. Highly Recommended.       

Buy from Amazon.com

C O N T E N T

V I D E O

A U D I O

E X T R A S

R E P L A Y

A D V I C E
Highly Recommended

E - M A I L
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