At Home, BluRay/DVD Reviews

PEG O’ MY HEART (Warner Archives)

By • Apr 20th, 2016 •

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DVD review by Roy Frumkes

This is a pre-code film that doesn’t take advantage of the pre-code liberties available to it. It’s a very sweet, unprepossessing production that plays wittily with the Irish language to great advantage, and also sees our bonnie lass sing and dance. It is, in fact, a gentle showcase for Ms. Davies, and dispels the myth that CITIZEN KANE’s cruel caricature of Hearst’s mistress was on the money. Hearst may have forced her into high-class vehicles that were unsuitable for her gifts, but when she had something real and charming like this to sink her teeth into, she was up to the challenge.

PEG O’ MY HEART was a remake of a 1922 feature directed by King Vidor. Odd to consider it as a silent, since the Irish poetic-speak is so essential. But I guess the occasional title card could have gotten some of it across. The writing and the delivery of the lines are two of the better things about this production. Having Ms. Davies as its centerpiece is another. I had to go back and look again at the first act to believe the transformation – until she moves in with her presumed wealthy relatives (they’re not, and they plan to use this fish-out-of-water to their advantage), her face is unflatteringly fat. But in acts two and three, the same facial features seem much more balanced. Lighting? Wardrobe? I can’t tell. Weird…

Having come from the silent era where highly communicative body language was imperative, she’s really a great pleasure to watch, and they’ve given her an abundance of amusingly sly rejoinders, all used to disarm her antagonists with hardly any malice intended.

There are some wincing editorial mis-matches, and the emotions go a decibel too high near the end. And some of the people around her are consistently stiff. But these are livable flaws. Also, Ms. Davies is someone whose colorful past adheres to her like an aura, and it makes the disc collectible beyond it’s many surface gifts.

She had, off screen, a pronounced stutter, and I wonder if this necessitated numerous takes, or if it just didn’t manifest itself when she was in front of the camera?

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