Although ostensibly inspired by Gloria Swanson’s rise from Keystone comedies to lush romantic films, this silent comedy—now celebrating its 90th anniversary—can also be seen as a comment on star Marion Davies’ career. Like her character, Peggy Pepper, Davies excelled in comedy (Lucille Ball credited her as a major influence), but was frequently showcased in overblown historical dramas to please her lover, publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst. In fact, Hearst objected to her appearance in this comedy about a young innocent who becomes a star with the help of a friend and fellow actor (William Haines). When Hearst couldn’t block the production, he still exerted control by refusing to let her take a pie in the face. Unlike her historical dramas, this film was a big hit and is now considered her best. It is also a document of old Hollywood during the silent era. The comedy scenes were shot at Mack Sennett’s original Keystone Studios while the musicians playing throughout Peggy’s emotional scenes to get her in the mood were Davies’ own musicians. The film features cameos from such silent greats as Charles Chaplin, William S. Hart, Mae Murray (whom Davies satirizes when Peggy becomes a serious actress), John Gilbert, Douglas Fairbanks and King Vidor. Davies even shows up as herself in one scene. (d. King Vidor, 83m, 35mm)
**From the Collection of the Library of Congress.