Enchantment (1921) Poster


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Marion Davies Is Enchanting
drednm27 April 2014
Marion Davies stars as Ethel Hoyt, a beautiful, rich girl who is totally self-absorbed. She boasts in her diary that she can enchant men better than Cleopatra did in her day. She brags about toying with six Harvard seniors and how they jump at her every beck and call. She is condescending to her parents and treats them as clueless old things.

But daddy hatches a plan to "tame" his willful daughter. He hires an actor friend (Forrest Stanley) after seeing him in "The Taming of the Shrew." He persuades the actor to launch an amateur play in which Davies will star and publicly browbeat her.

The play is "Sleeping Beauty" with Marion as the princess and Stanley as the director and leading man. After belittling her in front of a pack of society matrons, she decides she despises him but goes on the with play. After all, who else could play the lead role? But lo and behold, Stanley falls in love with Davies (no surprise) and wins her over. Has she won again? The highlight of this film is the staged production of "Sleeping Beauty" in a series of scenes (supposedly at a socialite's house) that are gorgeously designed and quite elaborate. Along with dazzling costumes and sets, we are treated to flying fairies and witches, and multi-level sets that are beautifully lit.

The ending of the film, of course, is never in doubt although the final clinch is held off til the last second.

Marion Davies is excellent as Ethel, easily portraying the self-absorbed young woman who also has flashes of gaiety. Forrest Stanley is solid as the actor. Edith Shayne and Tom Lewis are the parents. Corinne Barker and Maude Turner Gordon are society ladies. Arthur Rankin plays Tommy the hapless college boy.

The film is stylishly directed by Robert Vignola, and the fabulous sets are by James Urban. The Long Island house and the Pierre (a tea room) sets boast the first use of European Modern (later art deco) decor in an American film.

My copy also boasts an excellent score by Donald Sosin.
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The Best Laid Plans
boblipton24 April 2014
Marion Davies is full of herself. She compares herself to Cleopatra -- to her own advantage -- writes paeans to herself in her diary and treats her father contemptuously. While he watches a friend of his in THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, he decides his daughter needs her own Petrucchio and asks his friend to do it. It is, of course, not that simple....

If the modern film fan is aware of Marion Davies at all, he thinks of her as the no-talent mistress of William Randolph Hearst, whose money and power sustained a career for her. In actuality, Miss Davies was an able actress, whose abilities were often thwarted by Mr. Hearst's insistence on important movies. Her talents lay as a light comedian. In this movie, she gets to do some light comedy and is excellent. This film was rated as one of the best of the year -- by competitors of the Hearst papers.

For one thing, this is a technically advanced picture for 1921; this would not be so clear to most modern viewers, but visually and in terms of story-telling, it would have been a good picture four years later, during a period of rapid evolution. Ira Morgan's camera-work is solid and the editing is brisk. The cast is surprisingly good under the direction of Robert Vignola, who rarely rose about adequate. The story is amusing and Miss Davies alternates between realistic screen acting and Delsartian posing when she wishes to fool other people.

Most interesting is the provenance of the copy I saw: Ed Lorusso ran it as a Kickstarter project and had the Library of Congress make a copy of their print. Although there is some major decomposition halfway through, most of the print is sharp and beautiful, making this more than usually watchable; also, Donald Sosin has provided a light, impromptu-sounding score that matches the movie perfectly.

Copies were distributed to the Kickstarter backers, but Ed may still has some for sale at $25 each. It's a bit high for 93-year-old movie, but if you have an interest in these things, it's definitely worth your time and money. Send Ed an email at drednm@yahoo.com.

October 9, 2015: Ed informs me that this fine movie is now available from Amazon, on DVD and via Amazon Streaming.
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Manhandling Marion
wes-connors13 December 2014
Fun-loving 18-year-old flapper Marion Davies (as Ethel Hoyt) is so enchanting, at least six Harvard seniors are in love with her at once. She thinks she's a modern day Cleopatra. Her mother compares Davies to the Queen of Sheba. The pretty teenager keeps company with three handsome young men, who are particularly devoted. They follow Ms. Davies around and appear willing to share. Inspired by Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew", Davies' wealthy father Tom Lewis (as William "Will" Hoyt) decides to show his egotistical daughter that all men don't fall in love with her. He hires actor Forrest Stanley (as Ernest "Ernie" Eddison) to romance Davies, then become disinterested. Problems arise when true love takes over...

"Enchantment" is a very well-produced silent. The available print looks great. Thanks to restoration producer Edward Lorusso for helping bring the film to light. Director Robert G. Vignola and Ira H. Morgan give it an appropriately boxed-in look. They frame the richly detailed sets well. The film outwears its welcome by the time everything stops for a longish performance of "The Sleeping Beauty", but it helps (artistically). Contributing nicely are title cards by Grace Waller and a new musical score, by Donald Sosin, which captures the film and era perfectly. Davies is appealing and performs amusingly as the young teenage flapper. The art/set direction by Joseph Urban is lovely and, of course, Marion is even lovelier.

******* Enchantment (10/30/21) Robert G. Vignola ~ Marion Davies, Forrest Stanley, Tom Lewis, Edith Shayne
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The Flapper Tamer!!!
kidboots6 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Sweet Marion Davies had already made a movie, "Runaway Romany" (1917) directed by George Lederer, her brother-in-law before she met William Randolph Hearst but from then on she was on her way. Her first film was a serial "Beatrice Fairfax" after which her films, personally produced by Hearst, with titles like "Cecilia of the Pink Roses" portrayed her as a sweet young thing whose innocence triumphs over the baser ideas of the people around her and shows the hero her true worth. By 1919 Hearst had formed an agreement with Paramount which was to release the Marion Davies films through a production company called Cosmopolitan. Initially not popular (Hearst papers who were not known for their film interest suddenly had a "fabulous new star who was a vision of loveliness" etc) her beauty and personality finally won her a following and "Enchantment" was her first film of a new Cosmopolitan 5 year contract.

Directed by the very stylish Robert G. Vignola, with stunning Art Deco sets by Joseph Urban and with beautifully artistic titles by Grace Waller, lovely Marion Davies plays Miss Ethel Hoyt who resents being labelled a flapper but with her daring stockings, dances at Pierre's and six "half witted" beaus - that's exactly what she is!! "A modern day Queen of Sheba with every man a subject to her enchantment" is how her mother describes her - after she reads her diary!!! Ethel thinks she could teach Cleopatra a few tricks but her father thinks she could learn a few lessons in humility from an actor friend of his - Ernest Eddison (Forrest Stanley who with this movie began a 4 film association with Marion). Ernie is touring with "The Taming of the Shrew" and initially I thought the plan was to get Ethel hopelessly smitten while Ernie treats her with disdain but of course Hearst would never allow Marion to participate in any frivolity like that so it became a "taming" in reverse as the actor becomes putty in Ethel's sweet little hands!!

As with another reviewer I felt the movie wore out it's welcome before the play but "The Sleeping Beauty" was spectacularly staged with lovely silhouette figures, a long winding staircase and the unexpectedly (for Ethel) passionate kiss to awaken her!! In fact Ernie was so full of ardour that Ethel was heartily embarrassed and finding out that initially it had all been a ploy to get her to be a more obedient daughter found Davies at her poutiest best!!

The standouts that rate these early Davies movies high are the superb production values Hearst always insisted on and everything had to be of the highest standard - which is probably why Marion Davies movies didn't always recoup their costs, they were just so expensive to make!!!

Highly Recommended
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Not very enchanting
psteier11 March 2001
Main interest is the production design (which is said to be advanced for films of its period) including that for the two plays within the film, a short section of The Taming of the Shrew and a staging of fairy tale The Sleeping Beauty. Also, the women's costumes are interesting.

Marion Davies does not show much of what later made her famous.
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Untamed taming
sb-47-60873718 May 2018
First of all, kudos to the restorer for providing an exceptionally clear print. Unfortunately that can't be said of the direction or rather the story idea. The brief story, as mentioned in the various reviews is- there is a shrew (flapper in hollywood terms), Ethel Hoyt (Marion), with tons of dollars in her or her father's bank, just as Katharina of the original had. The only difference was that she was a social butterfly in addition. The father gets a brilliant idea, while watching the bard's play, that only a Petruchio can tame his daughter. Luckily, the actor playing the part of Petruchio was his close friend (despite huge age difference) and he agrees to tame her, make her fall in love with him, and once tamed, release her. Nothing much unpredictable in where it all lead to.

Had it gone along those lines, it would have been palatable, only to a certain extent. The basic idea of having your daughter, that too a head-strong one, fall in love with someone, you don't intend her to hitch with, is quite strange.

However even if one tends to forget that, ther rest of the movie had been a complete drag.

The Lioness-tamer had been well coached by the father, and had even been introduced as misogynist. He might not have been one, but he was asked to be one, a la Petruchio, to tame her. But was there any hint of that? Even once in the movie? The girl had been associated with the door-mat admirers, on whom she would stomp at her wish. At that moment she already had six of them, the Harvard Seniors, and this added a number to that and became the seventh door-mat, and remained so till the end. It just inexplicable on how she fell in love, if one goes on the logic that was being advocated.

Naturally I won't have liked it, if the women was shown to be doormat or even violated, as in the Bard's play. But the girl, romantic, and having her own way with all the men around, including her father, needed some one who at least sometime be tough, take stand against and not follow the wish of her little finger. The hero's character was definitely not having a single of those qualities. In the end she says she is tamed, but was she? I doubt. Once the 'Honeymoon' was over, she would have been back to her colours, since till the end, every one did, and acquiesced to what SHE wanted.. When she shooed him off, he he went, with proverbial tail between his legs, till she whistled him back.

Only plus factor was Marion's looks, but that can't really make an incoherent movie watchable.
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