The first version of Marion Davies' MARIANNE was a silent film (completed and released on a limited basis) in 1929. MGM made an odd but successful decision to re-shoot the entire film as a talkie (with songs) rather than create the usual "goat-gland" film by adding dialog or sound effects to a silent film. The result was a delightful starring talkie debut for Davies.
In the original silent version, we have exactly the same story (almost scene for scene) but with a different cast. The leading man here is Oscar Shaw (rather than Lawrence Gray) with comedy support from Robert Ames (rather than Cliff Edwards and Benny Rubin in the talkie). Robert Castle (also billed as Fred Solm) appears as Andre in both versions. Mack Swain plays the general in the silent version.
While the silent MARIANNE is an OK film in its own right, Shaw is a bland leading man and Ames adds little in the way of comic relief. I suppose it's unfair to compare the two films, but the silent version is very rare in any case, while the talkie version of MARIANNE shows up regularly on TV.
Davies was a top silent comedienne, and her work in MARIANNE is quite good, especially in the scene where she masquerades as a lieutenant with a bizarre mustache (and learns to smoke a cigar). MARIANNE would be the final silent film for the great Marion Davies.
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