Page Miss Glory (1935)
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The problem is that most of these sub-plots are not well integrated into the screenplay and serve mostly as annoying distractions. After all, what is Mary Astor actually supposed to be doing in this film?
Nevertheless, the leads are more than adequate, though it is hard to picture Marion Davies as "The Most Beautiful Girl America"
*** (out of 4)
When William Randolph Hearst took his girlfriend Marion Davies and production company Cosmopolitan from MGM to Warner, he bought the best talent on the lot and ended up delivering one of the better films of his career. In the film, wannabe money makers (Pat O'Brien, Frank McHugh) decide to get some quick cash by forging a picture to win a contest for the best looking woman in America. They end up winning but to their horror the press starts to eat up the story of "Dawn Glory". When a reporter (Lyle Talbot) begins to get close to their scheme, they discover that the motel chambermaid (Davies) actually looks like the girl in the photo. This mistaken identity farce begins to lose a lot of steam during the final half hour but with this amazing cast there's really no going wrong here. This certainly isn't a classic movie or one that needs to be studied in film schools but if you're a fan of Davies or the wonderful supporting cast then you're in for a treat. Not only do we get Davies, O'Brien, McHugh and Talbot but we also have Dick Powell, Mary Astor, Allen Jenkins and Patsy Kelly. Kelly and Jenkins are pretty much underwritten characters but the rest get to do all their tricks and end up turning over plenty of laughs for the viewer. The most shocking thing is that Davies doesn't have the most to do in the film as she remains a supporting player throughout. This is just fine because when she is on the screen she really tears it up and she's the best as the dimwitted chambermaid who never really catches on to what's going on. O'Brien is his usual fast paced self and he works wonderfully well with McHugh, which shouldn't be too shocking since both men played perfectly well as the sidekicks to James Cagney in various Warner films. Astor nearly steals the film with another strong performance and Talbot delivers the good as well. People are always going to debate on whether Davies was a talented actress or just the mistress to the most powerful man in America but I think this film proves she could be good if given the right material and support around here. Again, this isn't a masterpiece but there's enough here for film buffs to really eat up.
I was raised in a family that did not admire Marion Davies nor, for that matter, W.R. (William Randolph Hearst). In fact, our family took its orders from the Legion of Decency listings; watching a condemned film could book you a ticket to H*E*L*L. Thus, I was amply supplied with bias and prejudice against the STAR of this movie. SURPRISE! Hey, I think she is acting! Just this week, I had read about the Production Code that governed what we the public could see - for example, the principals in a bedroom scene needed to keep at least one foot on the floor at all times. The article discussed the effect of the code upon how women were to be portrayed - before 1934, when the Code went into effect, women could be "sultry", "naughty", or whatever. After, however, the woman had to be relegated to unimportant and uninspiring roles; a rule, per the article, that led to popular male roles and the rise of male stars.
MARION DAVIES was relatively unknown to me for the aforesaid reasons - for once, my "Videohound" was mute on the movie but did show that she had two other movies released on Video.
So, we watched. We were seeing a CODE movie. A Cinderella story, she played an overly dumb blonde hotel room maid who (unwittingly)influenced a couple of promoters' efforts to create a pinup of the "the perfect" candidate for a beauty contest. The pinup is a composite of attractive parts of attractive women. Guess who looked like the imaginary pinup? We enjoyed the movie from start to finish and got a lot of good laughs - you would enjoy it. The only problem I had was the role played by Mary Astor - perhaps her sympathetic support lent stature to the movie but Astor's female role acted depressed and confused - not too dangerous to the men's silly schemes.
I was sure that W.R. had meddled with the whole thing until I looked up "Page Miss Glory" in IMDb. From there, came most of the facts quoted above. It turns out that Davies' accomplishments included Movie Scripts and she produced a dozen movies. In all she acted in 48 movies from 1917 to 1937. Since "Page Miss Glory" was her 45th, it is a mature effort.
The story has been mentioned in other reviews here. Pat O'Brien and Frank McHugh have created the fictitious "Miss Glory" as the winner of a spurious Hollywood talent contest, making a picture of her based on parts of all the other great Hollywood leading ladies of 1935. Of course, in this film, the resulting montage picture looks like Davies. But their con may be collapsing - they have to produce Miss Glory and they can't. Then the see their hotel room cleaning lady, a young woman wearing drab clothes and glasses, and who is remarkably clumsy. Without her eyeglasses - why it's none other than Davies. Quickly O'Brien, McHugh, Mary Astor, and Patsy Kelly convince Davies to play Miss Glory. She dumb, but now she is dumbstruck! But the idea actually catches her fancy. Soon she is ready to be the putty in their hands.
It was an early view of publicity and notoriety. The way the public chews up the fashionable, beautiful Miss Glory, without seeing a bit of evidence she can do anything at all is astounding - and was not really recaptured for another twenty years until George Cukor turned Judy Holliday into "Gladys Glover", the overnight celebrity on a huge Manhattan billboard, in IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU. Only one guy really doubts the ballyhoo - Lyle Talbot, a cynical newspaper reporter who does not trust O'Brien with his checkered past. But in the main the public love her, and when (in a radio interview) she mentions her admiration for a dumb aviator - hero played by Dick Powell, Powell hearing it on his radio decides she must be the girl of his dreams too!
O'Brien is not happy about this relationship, and tries to stop it - it is possibly putting a halt to his making a killing in getting Davies' endorsements for advertising various goods. He orders McHugh to take her into the country so that Powell can't get into contact with her. This keeps McHugh from dating his girlfriend, Kelly, who is getting jealous. In one of the most touching moments of the film, McHugh and Davies kiss each other in the front seat of his car, each pretending the other is Powell and Kelly. But after a moment they both realize it just won't work!
There are funny little moments of other performers in the film. Joseph Cawthorne and Al Shean play rival yeast manufacturers who are always arguing. Both want Miss Glory to advertise their particular yeast. O'Brien dislikes both men (they forced their way into the hotel room), and as the two "Dutch" dialog actors argue out loud, O'Brien (in total anger) yells to McHugh, "Get Weber and Fields out of here!".
If only she had made more films like this - but W.R. wanted her in historical films and dramas. Sad for her career and her reputation.
Press Agents Pat O'Brien and Frank McHugh concoct a phony beauty by taking facial features from several known movie stars to create the perfect American beauty. When asked to produce her, our intrepid duo is stuck, but when hotel chambermaid Marion Davies comes in to make up the room, it seems like a prayer has been answered.
O'Brien and McHugh are playing roles that they've both done dozens of times alone and together at Warner Brothers in the Thirties. I think Pat O'Brien pulled more cinematic cons than any other player on record. Davies has some very funny moments and I know she wished she could have done more films like this one.
Dick Powell plays a Charles Lindbergh like aviator with a nice tenor voice who sings the song Harry Warren and Al Dubin wrote for the film Page Miss Glory. It's done during a dream sequence when Davies still thinking like a chambermaid, imagines herself being swept up romantically by Powell.
Page Miss Glory is one of Marion Davies better sound features and still worth seeing today.
It's not worth going into detail from there, because what follows is a dull story with a lousy script and jokes that fall flat, many of which have 'so's your old man'-type punch lines (I told you it was a 30's comedy). The camera lingers too long on some jokes and situations, taking some of the starch out of the humor, and Miss Davies overplays her part and flattens other spots which could have been funnier.
O'Brien and Mc Hugh do their best, with O'Brien relying on his loud, rapid-fire delivery to gin up excitement. Mary Astor is on hand with little to do and is given some stale dialogue, and the same for Allen Jenkins, Barton MacLane and Patsy Kelly. The title song is fair at best. All in all, a forgettable effort directed by, of all people, Mervyn LeRoy, who should have known better.
Davies plays Loretta (aka, Dawn Glory later). O'Brien is Click Wiley, a half of a promoter team that more often than not comes up with a con game of some sort to strike it rich. The other half of the team is Ed Olson, played by Frank McHugh. His fiancé is Gladys, played by Mary Astor. And the idol of Loretta is that dashing, if dangerously daring pilot, Bingo Nelson, played by Dick Powell. Some other actors add character to the story, which otherwise would be very thin.
This isn't a laugh-a-minute film, based on a script of witty dialog. It has some of that, but mostly it's a comedy of situations that are most funny with errors on the part of Click and Ed.
"Page Miss Glory" is one of the last movies Marion Davies made. After 49 films dating to 1917, she retired at age 40 in 1937. Apparently, her star was dimming although her later co-stars were among the top leading men of Hollywood. Since 1930, she appeared in films with Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Gary Cooper, Leslie Howard, Robert Montgomery, and O'Brien and Powell.
I've enjoyed all of her several films that I've seen, but I note that her performance varies in those from good to excellent. She was at her best in comedy, for which she was best known. In those films especially, it's hard not to like this actress, or to appreciate her talent. The ebullient Davies is a delight. She always seems to have something to be cheerful about. And, she had a winning smile and sparkling eyes that just endear her that much more.
Her fading from stardom at such an early age was probably due to several circumstances. Her long-running affair with the married William Randolph Hearst probably figured in somewhere. Hearst had promoted Davies aggressively in his magazines, when she was popular. His own Cosmopolitan Productions company starred Davies in more than one- third of its films over its 20-year life – which just happened to coincide with Davies' film career. But Hearst's empire was crumbling during the Great Depression. Davies was drinking heavily during this time, but the couple stayed together another 14 years until his death in 1951. After Hearst's death, Davies married actor Horace Brown, and they stayed together until her death from cancer at age 64 in 1961.
Davies wrote the script of the first movie she made, and then in 1918-19 her next four films were produced by her own company. She was not wealthy on her own, so the financing for the kick-start of her career came from somewhere else – most likely Hearst. Davies wasn't among the great actresses of the silver screen in her short career. But she was very good and entertaining in most of her pictures. One can't help but ask the familiar questions that always seems to surface in discussions and writings about Davies. What might she have become? How might her career have developed if she had not met and taken up with the married mega-millionaire Hearst at the start?
I go with the N.Y. Times reviewer who said: "Some of it is funny, some of it isn't, and a lot of it is speed and noise." For sheer speed and noise you can have PAT O'BRIEN, spouting all his dialog like a machine gun spitting out lines faster than the speed of sound. You can have ALLEN JENKINS being his lovable but dumb self, saddled with some of the film's sillier moments but at least drawing a chuckle. Or you can sympathize with MARY ASTOR who is supposed to be daffy about FRANK McHUGH--and that too is good for a laugh. And then we have poor DICK POWELL, trying to make something out of a thankless supporting role as Marion's true love.
It's all done in the furious fashion typical of these screwball comedies from the '30s--only this one hasn't got enough wit in the script to please any discriminating viewer.
For Davies fans only. Before it's over, you get the feeling you've seen it all before.
The style of "Paging Miss Glory" is very similar to several other Pat O'Brien films--"Boy Meets Girl" and "The Front Page". That's because in each of these O'Brien plays a schemer who delivers lines like a machine gun! He's 100% energy--like a guy on crack! And, if the material is very good (like in "The Front Page"), it works wonderfully. Unfortunately, this film's only asset is this energy, as underneath all the hysteria and frenetic action, the movie just isn't that good--much of it because the story makes little sense--especially the hysteria that results from a publicity stunt.
The film begins with O'Brien and his partner, Frank McHugh, broke and running up a huge hotel bill (like "Room Service"). But O'Brien is a promoter--and he knows he'll come up with some idea that will dig them out of their situation. Out of the blue he gets an inspiration--McHugh will make a composite photo made up of all the best parts of the great beauties and enter it in a photo contest (sort of like a primitive version of PhotoShop!). Well, without knowing it, they have created a picture that just coincidentally looks like the chambermaid (Davies). So, when they win they need to be able to present this fictional lady to the press--especially since O'Brien plans on milking it for all it's worth. In the process, the plan picks up a goofball aviator (Dick Powell), a crusading reporter (Lyle Talbot), and a group of mobsters (including Barton MacLane and Allan Jenkins). In addition, Mary Astor is along for the ride--making the film have a very strong cast of familiar faces.
The problem is that none of the film makes any sense even if it is occasionally entertaining. Plus, in all deference to the Davies ballot-stuffers, she is the worst actor in this movie. Mostly, Marion just stands around and gawks at the camera. In addition, and I know this will sound mean, but by now she is 39 and frankly not THAT attractive to be playing such a glamorous part. As a result of this film and other turkeys during the mid to late 1930s (such as "Cain and Mabel"), Miss Davies retired soon after "Paging Miss Glory".
There are two con-men (Pat O'Brien and Frank McHugh) inventing the concept of Photoshop over 50 years before it is a practical reality by entering a composite photograph in a beauty contest and winning, Marion Davies being brave enough to parade around before the camera for almost a full hour as an overweight plain chamber maid, and Dick Powell as a Dudley DoRight type of ace pilot with a chest full of medals who proposes to the beauty contest winner, who is, of course, a girl he's never even met since she doesn't exist. Marion's chamber maid character returns the sentiment having fallen in love with the pilot's picture. Mary Astor plays the mismatched and possessive fiancée of Frank McHugh's character.
In short this movie is intentionally ridiculous fun. It pokes fun at publicity campaigns and what makes people famous and interesting to the press and has plenty of that rapid fire dialogue for which Warners was famous in the 30's. Just take off your thinking cap and enjoy.
'Page Miss Glory' was a decent film if not a great one. It is not one that will appeal to everybody, and hasn't done, very understandably. The same, as in not appealing to everybody, can be said for Davies herself, not hard to see why again. Won't consider myself a fan of her but she has her charms. There are however a fair amount of good things while with elements that are easy to criticise.
Davies does carry the film very well, showing herself to be a charmer, a good comedienne and the ability to command the screen. The cast in fact are the reason to see the film. Dashing Dick Powell, razor sharp Pat O'Brien (very funny too) and equally funny Allen Jenkins are the standouts in support. Patsy Kelly and Barton MacLane are also good.
Further good things are a snappy script that has its fair share of hugely enjoyable moments and a lively pace. The film is never dull, is competently directed and has some decent production values. The title song is a lovely one.
Less good is the rather thin story, in terms of the basics, that does try to do too much at points, some of it and the characters don't serve much point.
Was also disappointed that Mary Astor had too little to do and Joseph Cawthorn and Al Shean are on the annoying side.
Overall, decent but not quite enough glory. 7/10 Bethany Cox
Plot summary: Loretta (Marion Davies) is a country girl from Red Hook arriving in New York City's busy Grand Central train terminal where, after given some guidance from Mr. Kimball (Harry Beresford), a traveler's aide, and only $27 to her name, comes to the Park Regis Hotel where she interviews herself to Mr. Yates (Berton Churchill), the assistant hotel manager, for a job. Loretta becomes the hotel's chambermaid and teams with Betty (Patsy Kelly) cleaning rooms and assisting guests. Her first good deed goes to Chick Wiley (Pat O'Brien), a promoter, and Ed Olsen (Frank McHugh), his assistant, of Room 1762, down on their luck and four weeks behind their bill. Believing they are hungry, Loretta offers them a rejected meal from one of the other guests which turns out to be dog food. Gladys (Mary Astor), a hard-working secretary and Ed's love interest, tries her best to assist in their lack of creativity to get themselves back into business. Upon reading a full page ad in a magazine for the submission of a photograph for the most beautiful girl in the world, Ed schemes up a publicity stunt by sending a composite photo of a fictional girl he names "Dawn Glory" in hope of winning the $2500 grand prize. Much to everyone's surprise, Chick wins, but is unable to produce the girl he's promoting to Slattery Hawkshaw (Lyle Talbot), a reporter for the Express insisting on an interview with Chick's Wonder Girl. It is only when Loretta, after beautifying herself at the beauty parlor, puts on the Miss Glory Silhouette Dress does the homely chambermaid become the new American Beauty. As fate would have it, Loretta, known to all as Miss Glory, is proposed marriage by Bingo Nelson (Dick Powell) over the radio only after having seen her photograph but never met her personally (except earlier at the hotel as a chambermaid). Though Loretta is madly in love with Bingo, her life gets a turnaround when she's abducted by hired thugs, Petey (Allen Jenkins) and Blackie (Barton MacLane), out for some ransom money.
Also in the large assortment of Warners stock players are Joseph Cawthorn and Al Shean playing a couple of heavily accented rival businessmen; Lionel Stander (Nick, a Russian accented wrestler employed in the hotel baggage room); Hobart Cavanaugh (Kimball); and in smaller roles, Helen Lowell, E.E. Clive, Gavin Gordon, Irving Bacon and Jonathan Hale. Very much a straightforward comedy, the title song of "Page Miss Glory" (by Al Dubin and Harry Warren) is first heard briefly by an uncredited vocalist at a night club before Miss Glory has her daydreaming fantasy moment staring directly into the picture frame of Bingo (Powell) to come to life and sing the song directly to her.
Though PAGE MISS GLORY gets off to a great start, it grows tiresome by the time it reaches its 93 minute conclusion. As usual, the cast does its best in what they do, namely Pat O'Brien as a scheming promoter; Dick Powell appearing in pilot's uniform throughout the story; the serious-minded Mary Astor, among the many others in this all-star cast. In conclusion, PAGE MISS GLORY very much belongs to Marion Davies alone. She's has some very fine moments, especially during the first half of the story during her amusingly fish-out-of-water hillbilly type in the big city to unexpectedly become an American Beauty.
Never distributed to home video, PAGE MISS GLORY had its moments of glory when first broadcast on Turner Network Television (1989) before becoming a more permanent fixture on Turner Classic Movies cable channel. (***)
Marion Davies plays a naive rube (Loretta) who comes to New York City. Her search for the perfect guy mostly centers around celebrity crushes, like the daring self-promoting stunt pilot, Bingo Nelson (Dick Powell). Davies' performance is the highlight of the film, but it is worth seeing the film just for the bevy of talented supporting actors.
This light-weight comedy clocks in at 93 minutes, and it feels like an adaptation of a play (which it is), but its screwball story serves up plenty of fun and feels like a cultural artifact from the mid- thirties.
Davies is plain-Jane Loretta Dalrymple, who comes to New York, asks to see the manager of a swanky hotel, and says she wants a job as a chambermaid.
In the hotel is the broke photographer Click Wiley (O'Brien), and Ed Olson (McHugh). They're something like three weeks in arrears at the hotel, and have to be out by Tuesday.
They see an ad from a yeast manufacturer offering a reward for a photo of "America's Prettiest Girl." Ed gets to work and makes a composite up of all the beautiful movie stars and names the woman Dawn Glory.
Dawn wins, and everybody wants a piece of her. Even the famous aviator Bingo Russell (Powell) is crazy over her photo and proposes mid-flight.
When a gown shows up for Dawn, Loretta tries it on, and after a little work, she becomes the photo of Dawn Glory. In those days, platinum blond hair went a long way.
Loretta has everything a girl could want - new clothes, shoes, makeup, living in a gorgeous suite, but she's a bird in a cage. Click is determined to keep her away from the press, particularly a reporter (Talbot), and he doesn't want her running off with Bingo. She's miserable.
Good movie, with Davies again showing her comic abilities as the chambermaid turned beauty, and she's surrounded by wonderful actors. Mary Astor's role is never really explained - she seems to be a friend of Click's and company - she shows her comic flare without having much to do.
O'Brien and McHugh are at it again, and they're a great team as always. Patsy Kelly as a maid and friend of Loretta's always played to the back of the house. Powell sings like a dream. An amazing man, and sadly all but forgotten today. I'm so glad TCM shows his films. Imagine going from singing and playing juveniles to giving Aaron Spelling and Sam Peckinpah their starts in show business.
A real send-up of celebrity, and quite funny, though in those days it wasn't as easy as it is today. Back then, you actually had to do something in order to become a celebrity, even if it was winning a contest.