The Patsy (1928 film)

The Patsy is a 1928 American silent comedy-drama film directed by King Vidor,[2] co-produced by and starring Marion Davies for Cosmopolitan Productions, and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was Marie Dressler's "comeback" film after a long slump in her film career. In February 2020, the film was shown at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival, as part of a retrospective dedicated to King Vidor's career.[3]

The Patsy
Lobby card
Directed byKing Vidor
Written byAgnes Christine Johnston
Ralph Spence
Based onThe Patsy
1925 play
by Barry Conners
Produced byMarion Davies
William Randolph Hearst
King Vidor
StarringMarion Davies
Marie Dressler
CinematographyJohn F. Seitz
Edited byHugh Wynn
Music byVivek Maddala
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • April 22, 1928 (1928-04-22)
Running time
78 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)



Vidor and his cameramen set out in his Hacker-Craft speedboat to film water sequences for The Patsy.

The Patsy saw Marion Davies starring in her 27th film, a comedy that has been recognized as a classic. This was Davies' first film (of three) with director King Vidor and the only time she appeared with Marie Dressler. Once again, Davies bobbed her hair, this time to play the dowdy and downtrodden Patricia, the younger daughter in a household ruled by an imperious mother (Dressler) and selfish sister (Jane Winton). Vidor encouraged Davies to cut loose and use her comedic talents to their fullest, and the result was a joyous Davies who runs and somersaults and cavorts like a mad woman after she decides to "get some personality." The highlight of the film is the extended sequence where she tries to get the attention of the sleepy Billy Caldwell (Lawrence Gray). Davies resorts to impersonating Lillian Gish, Mae Murray, and Pola Negri in an effort to get Billy's attention. The transformations are truly remarkable. The reviews were rapturous and the film was a huge hit. Hearst and MGM were so impressed, they immediately assigned Vidor to begin working on another vehicle for Davies. The Patsy also served as a big comeback vehicle for Dressler.[4]


  1. ^ Slide, Anthony (2005). Silent topics : essays on undocumented areas of silent film. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press. p. 26. ISBN 9780810850163. OCLC 469961637.
  2. ^ "Progressive Silent Film List: The Patsy". Silent Era. Retrieved March 29, 2008.
  3. ^ "Berlinale 2020: Retrospective "King Vidor"". Berlinale. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  4. ^ Lorusso, Edward (2017). The Silent Films of Marion Davies. CreateSpace. pp. 149–150. ISBN 9781547247950. OCLC 1090066638.

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