Monday night I returned once again to the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica at the personal invitation of documentary filmmaker Elaina Archer. Elaina created Captured on Film: The True Story of Marion Davies along with several other great documentaries on classic cinema and was extremely supportive of my own video on Marion and the Beach House. Last night she hosted the premiere of Marion's 1927 silent classic Quality Street at the star's former estate. Though an unusually rainy evening, we in the audience were warmly welcomed and it was exciting to be there. The movie was set to an original score by Maria Newman, daughter of nine-time Oscar-winner Alfred Newman, and she also led the talented group of musicians who accompanied the movie live. Her orchestration was incredible, including character themes, recurring emotional moments, and even sound effects like horses trotting down the street and the falling of rain. It was so amazing to be in the company of a live audience who deeply appreciated the entire experience of the viewing as I did...perhaps especially that was held at the home of Marion herself.
Quality Street is a very good example of Marion's acting talent--she actually plays two parts--and I continue to be amazed at how modern she seems on screen. She's so dynamic that you forget you're watching a silent picture...you know exactly what she's saying and even thinking by the strength of her eyes and body language. I really encourage you to see any of her movies if and when you get a chance. And to see and learn more about Marion Davies, the history of the Annenberg Beach House and Marion Davies' original Guest House, you can check out the video and photo story from my visit at the end of the summer.
Marion's original Guest House at night
Elaina introduces benefactor Robert Board (standing, below left) and
Maria Newman (standing, below center) and the rest of the musicians playing her original score
Quality Street with Marion Davies and Conrad Nagel
The Quality Street wrap party included director Sidney Franklin (next to Marion, on right)
Nighttime water features--Marion's original pool (above) and the Beach House's new fountain
Saying goodbye to the Beach House on this rainy night...but I'll be back