Beauty's Worth (1922) Poster

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Marion Davies Is a Doll
drednm30 October 2005
Marion Davies stars as a repressed Quaker raised by two old maid aunts (Martha Mattox, Aileen Manning). She is allowed to go to a seaside resort one summer where she follows her childhood friend (Hallam Cooley) who she thinks she's in love with. A gold digger (June Elvidge) however, has designs for the shallow rich man. After being insulted and ridiculed by the gold digger, Davies comes upon a lonely painter (Forrest Stanley) who can't be bothered with the rich young things up at the hotel. He is instantly charmed by the innocent girl and they become friends. When he hears her story of unrequited love he sets out to help her by designing new clothes for her and selecting her to star in his elaborate charades (more of a tableaux).

Of course Davies is a knockout in the vampy 20s dresses and becomes the center of the social swirl. The charades (there are three) are terrific with Davies playing a doll and dancing. She is a sensation. About then the aunts show up and are horrified that their niece has become a hussy. The old friend (Cooley) has been dazzled and proposes marriage but Davies by now has figured out that all he is interested in is flash. She turns him down and leaves him to the gold digger. She takes off the jazzy dress and puts on her Quaker outfit. Wandering the seaside grounds she runs into the painter (Stanley) again. There is a happy ending.

Once again I'm struck by how good Marion Davies is. She has no problem playing the two parts of this girl's personality. She looks great too. Hallam Cooley and Forrest Stanley are rather bland as the boy friends. June Elvidge is good as the gold digger. Lydia Titus plays the Quaker maid and has a funny drunk scene. Aileen Manning and Martha Mattox are OK as the rigid aunts. Antrim Short plays one of the suitors, and the oddly named Thomas Jefferson, Jr. plays the painter's assistant.

Nice film, directed by Robert Vignola, who also directed Davies in When Knighthood Was in Flower the same year and which also co-stars Forrest Stanley.
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A pleasant morality tale
psteier11 March 2001
Marion Davies is a Quaker girl raised strictly by her two aunts. She goes to a fancy resort with childhood friend Hallam Cooley and his mother. Though she has a longstanding crush on him, he does not reciprocate, instead he is interested in a well dressed golddigger. To get his interest, Marion Davies allows rich and bored artist Forrest Stanley to dress her up and stars in his charade play, but when he does become interested, she realizes that he is only interested in the surface and goes for the artist instead.

Most interesting for the doll charade scene, where Marion Davies gets to act. The women's costumes are in the best Hollywood tradition.
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The Not-So-Smart Set
boblipton11 March 2017
Marion Davies is a contemporary Quaker girl raised by dour aunts in an unworldly fashion. She wants to be wed to Hallam Cooley, whom she has loved since they were children together When Cooley's mother invites her to stay with them at the posh resort of Haven, she goes, dressed like a Dutch doll. Everyone thinks she is a plain, stupid thing, except for perceptive artist Forrest Stanley -- and the movie's audience, of course. She is called upon by the snobby clothes horses at the resort to persuade Stanley to design an elaborate game of Charades for them. He agrees on condition she appear in the Charades in costumes he designs; he will also design an ensemble for her, and guarantees Cooley will propose. When Cooley does....

The modern movie-goer will recognize this sort of movie from examples like THE PRINCESS DIARIES, in which already-gorgeous Ann Hathaway is made to look like all the other well-groomed rich people, and suddenly she is beautiful. Sandra Bullock has also appeared in a number of these, like TWO WEEKS NOTICE and MISS CONGENIALITY. This is a well-produced example of the genre. The highlights are the scene of the Charades, with Miss Davies appearing in exotic costumes on a lavish set designed by Joseph Urban; and the scene in which Lydia Yeamans Titus, playing Miss Davies' Quaker servant, gets drunk.

I had the pleasure of seeing this movie on a DVD produced by Ed Lorusso with a fine organ score by Ben Model. Ed's earlier DVD productions of silent movies have been very successful and have shown up on Turner Classic Movies' Silent Sundays slot. Let us hope they have the sense to do the same for this one.
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Marion's Beauty is Worth It!!
kidboots4 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Cosmopolitan was a production company established by Hearst in the hope of turning Marion Davies into a superstar. No expense was spared in providing Miss Davies with the best craftsmen and the most popular co-stars. Everything was done to make Marion look beautiful but unfortunately that "look" had to tally in with an idealized vision of her, in spectacular costume romances or as a much sought after beauty. But Marion had a secret - she just wanted to make people laugh.

"Beauty's Worth" was just a Cinderella tale with Marion playing Prudence Cole, a plain Quaker girl brought up by her aunts who feel that the twentieth century is like a book of Satan!! Prudence's playboy cousin Henry (Hallam Cooley made an early career out of these lounge lizard type roles) comes to visit - and leaves behind a love struck girl but he has been only toying with her affections. Prudence visits Haven and charms everybody - especially struggling artist Cheyne Rovein (Forrest Stanley) who has his own opinion of the "society seals" she has been cast amongst. "What's a diamond doing amongst all those rhinestones"!!! He decides he wants them all to sit up and take notice of her so he designs some beautiful costumes for her part in a lavish charade performance. And wowee!! do they sit up!!

She is just spectacular in the three tableaux - the first has her with fluffy blonde hair and spangley dress as she dances reminiscent of her Follies days, the second gives her a chance at some comic pratfalls as she becomes a doll under a Christmas tree that all the other little boy dolls fall in love with. The last is the most wondrous of all when Prudence dressed as a goddess has all the natives at her feet. The sets were out of this world and were designed by Joseph Urban. Urban was employed in films exclusively by William Randolph Hearst and brought from his background as a prominent set designer of the Ziegfeld Follies the skill and know how to show Miss Davies in the setting and costumes that Hearst felt showcased her to advantage.

Henry, who according to one of the title's, judges women on how smart and up to date their dress is, falls for Prue hard but so do the entire male population of Haven and with an up to date wardrobe by Cheyne she is a sensation!! But she is also smart and sensible and there is no way she is going to accept Henry's definition of love - "love is when women wear smart clothes and look the height of fashion" as opposed to Cheyne's words from the heart.

Critics were not won over by the Davies' personality in 1922 and a particularly scathing review from The New York Times resented the money obviously lavished on the production to prop up a star whose career was being mismanaged. But Marion had the last laugh - she had real talent and had what it took to make it on her own regardless of Hearst's well meant bungles!!

Highly Recommended.
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Now available in a superior print!
JohnHowardReid20 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
It's marvelous what a superior print will do, and the whole film is now available in such a print from Alpha. Here's Marion Davies, soon to star in Robert G. Vignola's sensational epic, "When Knighthood Was in Flower", doing a try-out for Vignola in this breezy little romantic comedy. True, comedy isn't really Vignola's specialty. He is inclined to let scenes run a little too long and some of his players (particularly Forrest Stanley who makes his artist perhaps just a little too glum and super-serious a figure) give little evidence of a comic touch. Davies, of course is delightful, but Aileen Manning and miscast Martha Mattox as the aunts fail to really send up their crotchety characters, so that instead of having a good laugh at the Quakers, we are only slightly entertained. And oddly, despite their long-winded introductory scenes, the aunts then virtually disappear from the plot. For this reason, I used to recommend the Kodascope 5-reel cutdown rather than the full 7-reel release version. Both versions are available on DVD. However, the full version is now available from Alpha in a near-excellent print which plays very well indeed, despite the monotonous music score that Alpha have added. The movie was based on a short story of the same name by Sophie Kerr, published in "The Saturday Evening Post" of 14 February 1920.
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