Sunday 17 February 2008

Peg o' My Heart (1933)

Off the west coast of Ireland, Peg O'Connell works the fishing docks with her father Pat. Soon though Sir Gerald Markham arrives with the news that an entire two million pound inheritance has fallen to Peg, if only the terms of the will are adhered to. She must spend three years in England with Mrs Chichester learning how to be a lady and she must cut ties with her father completely, as he is excluded from any part of the will. A few melodramatic but honest scenes later, she's in England being the third wheel in every possible situation.

Of course, as Peg quickly points out she's a sow's ear and she can't see how they could turn her into a silk purse, however much they try and they don't seem to do a lot of that. Her bright and cheery down to earth nature clashes completely with the fake upper class pretensions of the Chichesters, and it's Marion Davies's honest portrayal of Peg that keeps the film moving. Honesty is what it's all about, as Peg doesn't care what people think or say, because she only ever sees and hears truth.

Marion Davies is a joy to watch, even though her usually impeccable accent occasionally seems a little too earnest, and she's by far the best thing about the film, which doesn't have any real surprises outside her. Certainly the plot, from the play by J Hartley Manners, isn't surprising in the slightest, however much it may be to Peg at the time. I wonder how much the people responsible for the film really expected it to be otherwise.

As for the other people in the cast, Onslow Stevens is fine as Sir Gerald, though he fades into the background a little too easily. Irene Brown is suitably annoying as Mrs Chichester, and Juliette Compton similarly as her daughter Ethel. Most annoying of all, but in a far more endearing way, is Tyrell Davis as Alaric Chichester. He's a stereotypical upper class English twit but he becomes the only real friend Peg has in England, beyond Sir Gerald, who everyone calls Jerry except Peg who calls him 'Your Honour'. J Farrell MacDonald is a suitably caring father and Alan Mowbray is a powerful heel. At the end of the day it's Marion Davies's show, though, as always.

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