Thursday, November 24, 2016

For what it’s Worth

Here’s an extra post on the day that Thrilling Days of Yesteryear normally reviews a bit o’silent cinema:  Edward Lorusso, who’s sponsored successful Kickstarter campaigns in the past to restore Marion Davies feature films like Enchantment (1921) and The Bride’s Play (1922), is passing the hat around again to purchase and refurbish a 35mm print of Beauty’s Worth, also from 1922.  Worth is in the public domain and according to Ed “is one of hundreds of silent films preserved in archives or in private collections, unseen by the vast majority of film buffs and historians.”

The goal for the print of Worth is $3,000, and once purchased, Lorusso will commission a professional score.  Undercrank Productions’ own Ben Model was the accompanist on The Bride’s Play, and artists like Donald Sosin (whom you can hear on the new DVD release of When Comedy Was King [1960]) and David Drazin have also contributed to past projects.  If you can pony up $25, you’ll receive a DVD copy of Beauty’s Worth in a paper sleeve; Ed notes that if the campaign is a big success that disc will be in a DVD case (with art) to domestic donors (the cost of postage, alas, means that international donors will have to settle for the sleeve).  Apparently enough enthusiasm was generated for Lorusso’s past campaigns (including Marion’s The Restless Sex [1920], Gloria Swanson’s For Better, For Worse [1919], and Bebe Daniels’ Ducks and Drakes [1921]) that he could afford the cases with cover art (the only one I’ve funded so far was Bride’s Play, which was ensconced in a case) so there’s a good chance Worth will be cased as well (at I write this, close to $1800 had been collected).

From the campaign:

Marion Davies stars as a repressed Quaker raised by two old maid aunts.  She is allowed to go to a seaside resort one summer where she follows her childhood friend (Hallam Cooley) who she thinks she's in love with.  A gold digger (June Elvidge) however, has designs on the rich man.  After being insulted and ridiculed by the gold digger, Davies comes upon a lonely painter (Forrest Stanley) who can't be bothered with the rich young things up at the hotel.  He is instantly charmed by the innocent girl and they become friends.  When he hears her story of unrequited love he sets out to help her by designing new clothes for her and selecting her to star in his elaborate tableaux at the hotel.  Presto chango, Davies becomes a new woman.

Whether or not I’ll be able to kick in for this will be determined on how much I’ll get for the plasma this week.  I’m joking, of course—but I did ask my pal Lara at Backlots if it was worth the investment, and she responded that it was one of her favorite Davies films.  (Full disclosure: Lara is at work on a full-length biography on Marion, so her judgment might be a teensy bit clouded.)  She mentioned to me that she thought Beauty’s Worth had already been restored and I replied that I had no info on that.  Per Mr. Lorusso: “Beauty’s Worth has indeed been floating around for years in a grainy print from a VHS release by Videobrary.  Not only is the print grainy, but it is run at the wrong speed, making this 7-reel film run almost 2 hours.  At the correct speed, it should run around 77 minutes.”  (I have a sneaking suspicion that Videobrary print is the origin for this release here.  I got a little nostalgic when I saw the mention of Videobrary, by the way, since I bought several VHS copies of some Columbia two-reel comedies from them many, many, many years back.)

So if you’re a fan of Marion Davies—or even a silent film fan in general—and are interested in seeing Beauty’s Worth come to fruition, click here for the details.  Best of luck to Edward on the campaign, and now—if you’ll excuse me—I think I can get a couple of dollars for those pop cans we’ve been storing on the carport.

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