- Art Imitates Life 9/18/2004 12:00:00 AM by Ron Oliver
Marion Davies stars in this poignant MGM drama, directed by Edmund Goulding, which features excellent performances but is relentlessly downbeat. Writers Frances Marion & Anita Loos, two of the very best, really drag their characters through the Slough of Despond, piling emotional outburst upon painful heartache almost without relief.
The writers also give Miss Davies a most curious scenario: that of a lively, vivacious showgirl, not very good at holding her liquor, who, as the mistress of a wealthy, older tycoon, is settled into a life of luxury. Sound familiar? As the girlfriend of William Randolph Hearst, the nation's most powerful media mogul, and the chatelaine of San Simeon, America's most lavish private estate, Davies must have noted, and been amused by, the script's odd similarities to her own life.
Billie Dove gives a fine performance as Davies' oldest friend and bitterest rival, an insecure woman consumed by jealousy. Suave Robert Montgomery plays the object of both ladies' affections and he is both polished and sophisticated. James Gleason steals a few scenes as Davies' loving, work-weakened father.
The incomparable ZaSu Pitts shines in the small role of Davies' no-nonsense older sister. Sidney Toler (a future Charlie Chan) is her affable, lazy husband. Sinister Douglass Dumbrille plays a lecherous tycoon who likes blondes.
Jimmy Durante appears very late in the film and then only in one scene, essentially playing himself as a guest at a Davies party. His lowbrow humor is a wonderful tension reliever, especially during the few moments he and Davies spoof John Barrymore & Garbo in GRAND HOTEL, which Goulding had directed earlier that same year. It's a shame Durante doesn't get to interact with Miss Pitts, but just having him around for five minutes is a real spirit lifter.
Movie mavens will recognize Charles Williams & Billy Gilbert, both uncredited, as the sleazy producers who entice Miss Dove in the film's opening scene.
- Delightful! 6/5/2004 12:00:00 AM by classicflm
What a treat to see! BlONDIE OF THE FOLLIES is a very entertaining film with terrific performances by Marion Davies and Bille Dove. A great script by Anita Loos and Frances Marion and beautiful Art Deco sets by Cedric Gibbons make this fine film a must see. It is in Turner Classic Movies library, though it hardly ever gets shown. Be on the look out for it though, because it is a real treat. Fast, snappy and skillfully directed by one of the most underrated directors of Hollywood's Golden Age, Edmund Goulding, responsible for such classics as GRAND HOTEL and DARK VICTORY. If you want to read more about BLONDIE OF THE FOLLIES pick up the new Edmund Goulding biography. It's really very good.
- Total Davies Delight 7/29/2004 12:00:00 AM by drednm
One of Marion Davies' best performances in this snappy comedy/drama. Davies plays Blondie, a good girl who becomes a success in the follies despite her best friend's effort. Billie Dove (a big silent star in her best talkie role) is excellent as the friend. Robert Montgomery, Zasu Pitts, Sidney Toler, Douglas Dumbrille, and Jimmy Durante co-star. But this is Davies's film from beginning to end. She is totally wonderful, funny, touching, and gorgeous. Again and again I state that Marion Davies was major talent, a great star, and one of Hollywood's great beauties. She's also one of the finest comic actresses EVER! Watch this film and you'll see that Davies was an A-list star, one who deserves to be rediscovered. Blondie of the Follies may be a minor film, but it's well done, entertaining, and boasts terrific performances by Marion Davies and Billie Dove.
- Not quite what you expect... 4/30/2013 12:00:00 AM by MikeMagi
A few quick thoughts on "Blondie of the Follies": 1)Any movie with the title, "Follies," should be a musical. Despite a few brief song-dance numbers, this one isn't.2) Marion Davies was a much better actress than anyone (including Orson Welles) gave her credit for. 3)So, too, was Jimmy Gleason. He has a "confessional" scene with Davies that is heart-rending. 4) It's amazing to see Sidney Toler as a lazy young layabout; a lotta' people thought he played only Charlie Chan 5)No surprise, given that the screenplay was written by Anita Loos, to discover that the plot centers on the depression-era challenge of protecting one's virtue vs. the temptations of the wicked stage (as well as the speakeasies just across the street.) 6)Several comments claim that Billie Dove quit the movies because Randolph Hearst had cut her role in this film. But she has plenty of screen time. Taking a close look at Miss Dove, whose voluptuousness shifts from scene to scene, one suspects that she was tired of endless dieting. 7) Jimmy Durante gets co-star billing although he's only in the film for a few minutes -- but it's worth it for his "Grand Hotel" spoof with Davies as Garbo. 8)Did "Follies" chorines really have maids, chauffeurs and penthouse apartments? 9) Finally, it's a pretty enjoyable movie, typically pre-code, provided you weren't expecting a musical.
- A Follies Life 8/3/2009 12:00:00 AM by bkoganbing
I have to confess some great surprise that William Randolph Hearst had Marion Davies appear in a film so close to the truth of her own life. Because before she was a film star Marion Davies did appear in the Ziegfeld Follies. Not a star to be sure, but was noticed enough by more than William Randolph Hearst.
Blondie McClune comes from the same background as Davies did from the lower middle class Irish and I wouldn't be surprised if Davies had a father in real life like James Gleason. He's a strict dad who takes a dim view of his daughter's new life and the fast crowd she's hanging around with.
Which includes playboy Robert Montgomery and millionaire Douglass Dumbrille whose character is eerily close to Hearst. A friend who was already in the Follies when Marion arrives is Billie Dawn, but that doesn't last long as the women start quarreling about everything including the men they both seem to zero in on.
Dawn and Davies have some scenes with a real vicious bite to them. You can see the anger just build and build in Dawn throughout the film, her's is a performance to watch. Another to watch is Sidney Toler who plays Marion's loafing brother-in-law. Purportedly Davies had a family of dependents who all struck a gold mine when William Randolph Hearst took an interest in her.
Back in the day Ziegfeld's Follies dancers were the tabloid fodder of the day. Their romantic exploits and the rich men they collected around them were big news. That is also shown here.
Blondie Of The Follies also is a great opportunity to see Marion Davies as a dancer. She moves pretty good on the stage, at least as good as Ruby Keeler and Marion could have and should have done more films to show that part of her talent off.
Blondie Of The Follies is a nice backstage story with a good cast with Marion Davies getting to strut her dancing stuff.