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Peg and her father live a simple life in an Irish fishing village. One day Sir Gerald arrives at the village to tell Pat that Peg is heir to estate of her grandfather, who hated Pat. The upshot of the will is that she must go to England for 3 years to learn to be a lady and that Pat can never see her again. Pat does not tell Peg about his part of the will and sends her to live with Mrs. Chichester for her education. Peg soon finds that Alaric needs to marry her, but she wants Gerald who is engaged to Ethyl who wants Brent whose wife will not divorce him. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
PEG O' MY HEART (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1933), directed by Robert Z. Leonard, stars Marion Davies in a comedy-drama adapted from the popular stage play that later developed into a 1922 silent screen adaptation for Metro starring Laurette Taylor. Though Taylor might have been considered reprising her legendary role she originated for the talking screen, it was an event that never happened. Being a tough act to follow for anyone else assuming the part, Davies contributes greatly in what many consider her finest screen performance. Though this MGM talkie edition resembles certain elements that makes this seem like one directed by John Ford over at the Fox Studios starring Janet Gaynor, Davies, however, shows her ability as an good actress from dancing the Irish jig to speaking in Irish brogue to fine credibility.
The story opens on the West Coast of Ireland. Margaret, fondly known to all as "Peg" (Marion Davies), is introduced as a grown daughter of a fisherman father, Patrick Shamus O'Connell (J. Farrell MacDonald). Coming through the crowd in the fishing community is Sir Gerald Markham (Onslow Stevens), an executor of the Kingsnorth estate looking to speak with Mr. O'Connell. Markham informs O'Connell, whose late wife, Heather, being British by birth, that his father-in-law, Lord Brian Kingsnorth, has died and made Peg the sole heir of her mother's fortune of $2 million pounds. The will also specified that the only way Peg is to inherit the money is to spend three years living at the Chichester estate, with the separation between father and daughter to be permanent. At first O'Connell rejects the offer but eventually agrees to the terms following a tragic shipping accident. Promising to join her at a latter date, Peg agrees to leave her native Ireland with her dog, Michael, and Markham on the next train bound for England. Once at the Chichester estate, Peg finds her surroundings aren't as friendly as it is back home. During her stay, she copes with unfriendly servants and snobbish relatives. During the course of time, Peg has fallen in love with Markham, but is stunned to learn his wedding plans, arranged by Mrs. Chichester (Irene Browne), are to be to Ethel Chichester (Juliette Compton) and Peg's marriage to her foppish son, Alaric (Tyrell Davis). Knowing Ethel's unfaithfulness after witnessing her kissing Christian Brent (Alan Mowbray), a married man, Peg, wanting to return home, receives startling news from Markham as to why she can't return home and ever see her father again. Other members of the cast include: Doris Lloyd (Grace Brent); Robert Greig (Jarvis, the Butler); Geoffrey Gill (Terrence); Nora Cecil (Mrs. Smythe); Leyland Hodgson and Billy Bevan (The Detectives).
Unlike the 1922 screen version, which includes a prologue of Peg as a child, PEG O' MY HEART eliminates the early origins of the O'Connells and death of the mother by getting right down to basics, making this 89 minute movie into a full-fledged Marion Davies product. Aside from sentimentality and moments of humor, there's also song interludes to such tunes as: "Sweetheart, Darlin'," "Safe at Home," "Just Remember That We Love You" (beautiful song), "Boots and Saddles,"Hoppity Hop," "Tavern in the Town," and several reprises of "Just Remember That We Love You"; "Sweetheart, Darlin'." Considering reprises of "Sweetheart, Darlin," not only is it Peg's favorite song in the story, but its theme song as well.
Until it's occasional broadcasts on Turner Classic Movies from 1994 onward, PEG O' MY HEART was one of those rarely seen Marion Davies features for MGM of the 1930s in spite of its reputation as being Marion Davies best sound movie with SHOW PEOPLE (1928) as Davies' best silent. Yet, trite title songs as "Sweetheart, Darlin'" come across as mushy, or lack of a better known male co-star names as Robert Montgomery or Franchot Tone over Onslow Stevens may have something to do with its lack of any sort of revivals. With the exception of the familiarity of J. Farrell MacDonald, the lackluster cast shouldn't be the reason to avoid viewing this one either on Turner Classic Movies or acquiring a DVD copy for purchase to consider watching. Quite appropriate for St. Patrick's Day. (***)
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