Toronto Silent Film Festival: When Girls are Boys-Beverly of Graustark

Closing programme for TSFF2023

Gender bending in film is nothing new-it goes right back to the 1890s and has robustly kept going for well over a century. A cheeky blend of suggestive gender-bending comedy & satire mixed in with some excellent physical humour. A perfect showcase for Marion Davies at her Rom-Com best.

Less well known than her later classics Show People and The Patsy due to lack of wide modern access, this film will prove once and for all what a formidable talent Davies was and it's well past time to put to rest those false Citizen Kane induced myths that Marion was not talented. Just the opposite, Marion Davies was simply one of the top stars of her era and one of the finest comedians of all time.

Marion plays Beverly, the American socialite forced to cut her hair short (starting a real life trend) & disguise herself as her male cousin when he suffers a skiing accident. Why? Well, he’s not just any cousin, he’s the heir to the throne of Graustark (one of those legendary mythical princedoms Hollywood made good use of over the years) and there are those who will stop at nothing to keep him off it.

Her work is cut out for her when she must foil the General who has his own ambitions (played with delicious wickedness by Roy D’Arcy) an keep her disguise up. Of course, the now disguised Beverly, meets Dantan the Goat-Herder (Moreno) who saves he/she from certain disaster, and then hires him as her bodyguard … and, you guessed it, winds up falling for him. It only gets more complicated from there.

There're mistaken identities, palace intrigues, quick clothing swaps, drinking games, chases, swordfights and more than ample suspension of disbelief (those guys were THICK if they couldn’t see the charming gal under the uniform). It all comes to a rousing finale where heroics are performed, wicked intent is thwarted, hearts are won AND you get a great early Technicolor fancy ball to close it all out.

Lara Gabrielle, author of the critically acclaimed recent biography of Marion Davies (Captain of Her Soul, The Life of Marion Davies) will introduce the film (pre-recorded)

Much thanks to Ben Model and his Undercrank Productions for the loan of this film

Preceded by Charlie Chaplin in A Woman 1915

Live Accompaniment by Morgan-Paige Melbourne

Tickets $17 Eventbrite or at the door

Festival Passes or Sunday Passes also available. TSFF runs April 14-16