Sunday, August 28, 2016
Show People (USA, 1928)
Hollywood making fun of itself, already a magical place at late 1920s, full of stars and lively parties, this film even included the cameos of real Hollywood stars as themselves, like Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and John Gilbert. This film also shows the traps of fame and pride and how fast things could change to the best or the worst. A delicious comedy, with impeccable comedy timing, showing that MGM was not only good with dramas and epic movies, but also with comedies.
Marion Davies became infamous by her long-term relationship with millionaire William Randolph Hearst and by the negative impact It had over her career. But, in reality, Davies had an innate talent as a comedian and in the few films where she could show such talents she never disappointed the audiences. Ironically, the film shows the dichotomy between drama x comedy and that some people thought that dramatic films and plays were superior to comedies, specially slapstick comedies. The irony is that it was exactly the opinion Hearst had about Davies career, which would be unworthy of her dignity to act in comedies, and Hearst’s interference in her films did more harm than good to Davies in the long run.
A colonel from Georgia takes his young daughter (Peggy Pepper) to Hollywood in the hopes of showing the studios she is a good actress. Peggy gets immediately enchanted with Hollywood and upon her arrival she bumps into John Gilbert on the street. Yes, the man himself, already a mega star and famous all over the world. She seemed to be a rather naïve girl, not used with the bright lights of the big city and unaware of how competitive things were in Hollywood but she would soon realize it.
Peggy is befriended by a guy (Billy Boone) who helped her get into films in a small studio by acting in slapstick comedies. At first, Peggy was not happy with that because she expected to be into high-class dramatic films rather than in custard pie, physical comedies. But it turned out that her comedic talents were acknowledged and the audiences really liked Peggy’s films.
After a while, Peggy is “discovered” by a bigger studio, where she could act in the high-class dramas she had always dreamed about making. At first, she hesitated to leave Billy behind, but, as time passed, she was induced by her new leading man to acquire a completely new personality and hanged out with new friends, ignoring Billy. Meanwhile, Billy was still struggling in the same way he did before. Billy even tried to see Peggy, but she did not care very much. As her career progressed, she even pretended she did not know Billy.
Eventually, Peggy became so full of herself that her behavior even started interfering with her work in films, especially because she started to act like a royalty member rather than an actress who owed obedience to her bosses and had responsibilities to handle. And Billy would not let Peggy forgetting him easily, especially after knowing she was about to marry her new leading man. He tried to make Peggy come to her senses, but there was a fight involving a custard pie. The clash eventually had a good result and Peggy started to see things in a more reasonable way. She cancelled her convenience marriage and recommended Billy for a role in one of her films and, even more importantly, she was finally grateful for everything Billy had done for her in the old days. Then, they both realized their old good connection and love flourished between Peggy and Billy again.