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Marceline Day

Marceline Day
   Marceline Day - the gentle and quiet beauty of the Silent Era
 
Born Marceline Newlin
April 24, 1908
Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S
Died February 16, 2000 (aged 91)
Cathedral City, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years Active 1924-1933
Spouse(s) Arthur J. Klein
John Arthur (1959–?)



This original article was created by, and is the exclusive property of Silent Hall of Fame.


In the Beginning

Marceline Day was the younger sister of Alice Day, who was a famous and loved actress in her own merit. Marceline and Alice were very close to one another, and they both had a very close relationship with their mother Irene.  After living in Salt Lake City for a number of years the three of them arrived in Hollywood in early 1923.

Marceline Day made her first film appearance at 15 years young as an extra in William C. de Mille's film "Only 38", released on 6/17/1923.  Her first leading role at 16 years young was in the short comedy "Black Oxfords", released on 5/18/1924.  Later that year she partnered with Harry Langdon in what critics called "two stellar comedies" - "The Luck o' the Foolish" and "The Hansom Cabman".

In early 1925 Marceline Day played her first leading role in a feature film partnering with the star of Westerns Hoot Gibson for "The Taming of the West", and the critics already called her "a promising newcomer to the screen".  For her role in "The White Outlaw", released on 9/6/1925, where she co-starred with another luminary of Westerns, Jack Hoxie, critics called Marceline Day's performance "splendid".  She was 17 years young.

In late 1925 Marceline Day played her first dramatic role in "The Splendid Road", a critically acclaimed film about the California gold rush, for which she "created an outstanding achievement", according to the film's renowned director Frank Lloyd.  A critic commented that "Marceline Day contributes a splendid dramatic spark.  A brilliant future seems destined for her."


Recognition

That brilliant future started becoming reality very soon.

In January of 1926 Marceline Day played in "Western Pluck" with Art Acord, another star of Western films.  The critics said that “Marceline Day is a vivacious heroine...she plays the role in an appealing manner.”  In March of 1926 Marceline Day was one of four leading characters in another powerful drama about the Western frontier - "The Barrier".  Critics described her as "an actress of real merit...with a distinguished performance", they "hailed her work as one of the outstanding feminine portrayals of the year".

Later in 1926 at the age of 18 Marceline Day was the leading character and owned the tremendous success of no less than three critically acclaimed films: "The Boy Friend", made by MGM, and "That Model from Paris" and "College Days", both made by Tiffany.  There isn't a movie magazine or a newspaper of the era that does not give Marceline Day rave reviews for her outstanding performances. Those include Film Daily, Photoplay, Film Year Book, Motion Picture Classic, Motion Picture News, Motion Picture Magazine, Variety, Moving Picture World, and many other domestic and International film editions.

Critics said that in "The Boy Friend" Marceline Day's acting "is a revelation of sympathetic charm", it is "an excellent effort, that shows maturity of judgment, and more than ordinary ability".  "Marceline Day reveals a talent for drama that is amazing.  Miss Day is that rare combination, a girl with a real personality and acting ability."   "Marceline Day is sitting pretty at the top of the celluloid ladder, a fact you can discover for yourself when you see her in "The Boy Friend"".  

In mid 1926 it was announced that "Marceline Day's contract with the MGM forces has been extended, because of her exceptional work in three MGM productions - "The Barrier", "The Gay Deceiver" and "The Boy Friend"".  Also in the news at that time was that "Mae Busch and Marceline Day in the "Fools of Fashion" drew full houses to the theater throughout the week with big box office results being reported".

Critics also noted: "That Model from Paris" is important in that "it brings to the fore a new luminary in the person of Marceline Day in the leading role", and  "College Days" "brings down the plaudits of the trade reviewers.  Marceline Day contends for a place among the upper flight of popular screen personalities".


Stardom

In early 1927 Marceline Day co-starred with J. Barrymore in the historical drama "The Beloved Rogue".  Critics said that she "shines brilliantly in innumerable scenes" and "makes the film the most colorful, romantic screen story in the history of motion pictures".  In the contemporary drama "Red Clay" William Desmond "is brilliantly supported by Marceline Day".  In the critically acclaimed comedy "Rookies" Karl Dane and George K. Arthur, aided by Marceline Day, were "responsible for many an aching side when they took the big parts in that intensely funny screen comedy". "The merriment was uproarious and the throng howled and shrieked".

In May that year Marceline Day co-starred with Lars Hanson in the powerful historical drama "Captain Salvation", directed by John S. Robertson. Critics said that she "is surely stepping into the star class", as she stepped into her 19th year of age.  In "The Road to Romance", again directed by John S. Robertson, opposite the hero of "Ben-Hur" Ramon Novarro Marceline Day delivered another stellar performance.  Critics said that she "is more charming and beautiful than ever" and that she "plays the part with striking sincerity and charm".  In the mystery thriller classic "London After Midnight" Marceline Day was a leading lady to Lon Chaney, the master of mystery thrillers.  Critics said that "she plays her part in a convincing manner".  "London After Midnight" is considered the most sought after of all lost films.

1928 was also a strong year for Marceline Day.  In the war drama "Under the Black Eagle" she partnered with Ralph Forbes and critics praised her performance, saying that "Marceline Day does some excellent emotional acting".

In the crime drama "The Big City" starring Lon Chaney and Marceline Day the critics commended her acting by saying:  "Marceline Day has the big female lead, ...she does splendidly with her role, ... she is appealing, ...makes an admirable study if the role, lives up to her name as 'Sunshine', the sweetness of  her smile capturing all hearts".

In the romantic comedy "A Certain Young Man", where she partnered again with Ramon Novarro, "Marceline Day appears opposite the star as a leading lady, and, as usual, acquits herself with the highest honors...gives a most appealing performance ".  For her role in the comedy "Detectives", where she partnered one more time with Karl Dane and George K. Arthur, she was praised by critics again: "Marceline Day gives a most pleasing performance".

Marceline Day shone brightly and sweetly in the classic romantic comedy "The Cameraman" with the one and only Buster Keaton, a film that was used by MGM to teach comedians for generations.  Marceline Day is one of the reasons why this film is so universally acclaimed both by the critics and by the public.  "The Cameraman" has an outstanding ranking of 8.3 in IMDB.  Amateur reviewers from the site Mythical Monkey have described Marceline Day's performance in this film as worthy of an Oscar.  "The Cameraman" was added to the National Film Registry in 2005 as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

For her role in the political drama "Freedom of the Press" the critics commented that Marceline Day "plays admirably her part in a stellar cast", which included Lewis Stone, Malcolm McGregor and Henry Walthall.   For the society drama  "Restless Youth" starring Marceline Day supported by Ralph Forbes the reviews were: "Excellent, the best program picture in a long while.  Marceline Day's acting very good.  Best of luck and success to you, Miss Day".   "Stolen Love" is "an absorbing story with an outstanding cast headed by Marceline Day and Owen Moore; their excellent acting in this photoplay will win for them new laurels", noted the pundits.

Even in one film that was not universally praised by critics,  "The Jazz Age" opposite Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,  Marceline Day earned positive reviews for her performance : "Marceline Day is better than the film".
 
In early 1929 Marceline Day played in the comedy "A Single Man" and deserved high critic praise again: the film "gives Lew Cody, Aileen Pringle and Marceline Day an opportunity for some brilliant acting".

"Trent’s Last Case" is a thrilling  murder mystery, featuring an all-star cast; "Marceline Day is charming and appealing", commented the critics.  The cast includes Raymond Griffith, Raymond Hatton and Donald Crisp.

Marceline Day's last silent film is the oriental drama "The One Woman Idea".  Critics said that "Marceline Day, leading woman, portrays a dual role, and is everything that could be asked in both".

 
Legacy

Nowadays Marceline Day is judged almost exclusively by her sound films from the early 1930ies, which are readily available, generally belong to the so-called B-category and are inferior in artistic quality compared to her silent films.  However, this judgement is wrong, as it would be wrong to judge Buster Keaton almost exclusively by his sound films from the early 1930ies, which are inferior in artistic quality compared to his silent films.  Buster Keaton's renaissance came from the recognition of his silent films as masterpieces.  Similarly, Marceline Day's true legacy belongs to the silent era of motion pictures and the masterpieces that she helped create during that period.

Of her 33 high quality silent films, in which Marceline Day partnered with top male stars, played her most memorable roles, and earned the highest praise of the critics, only 4 are available on DVD: "The Beloved Rogue", "Captain Salvation", "The Cameraman" and just recently "The White Outlaw".  The other 29 are lost, misplaced or otherwise unavailable.  Finding and bringing back to the public Marceline Day's superior silent films will restore her name and legacy as one of the most illustrious female silent movie stars of the 1920ies.  The innumerable praises and glowing critic reviews, some of which were shown above, are a testament to Marceline Day's true ranking among the top movie stars of the Silent Era.

Unfortunately little is known about the 66 years of Marceline Day's life after she retired from acting in 1933.  She meticulously avoided the attention of the media and stayed away from Hollywood.  Unlike most movie personalities Marceline Day never sought any awards or recognition.  She remained the gentle and quiet beauty of the Silent Era until the end.


Click to enlarge:



Silent Filmography

Sources:

Film Daily, Photoplay, Film Year Book, Motion Picture Classic, Motion Picture News, Motion Picture Magazine, Motion Picture Almanac, Variety, Moving Picture World, The New York Times, Salt Lake Tribune, Bakersfield Morning Echo, Bridgeport Telegram, Davenport Democrat And Leader, Telegraph, The Canberra Times, Cairns Post, Frankston & Somerville Standard, Advocate - Burnie, Morning Bulletin - Rockhampton, The Advertiser - Adelaide, The Daily News - Perth, Singleton Argus, Mirror- Perth, The Register- Adelaide, Narandera Argus and Riverina Advertiser, Kalgoorlie Miner, Border Watch - Mount Gambier, Sunday Times - Perth, Sunshine Advocate, Examiner - Launceston, Portland Guardian, Southern Argus - Port Elliot, Barrier Miner - Broken Hill, Townsville Daily Bulletin, Werribee Shire Banner, Queensland Figaro - Brisbane, Sunday Mail - Brisbane, The Brisbane Courrier, Geraldton Guardian, The Mercury - Hobart, Northern Argus - Clare, The West Australian - Perth, Camperdown Chronicle, Auckland Star, Evening Post, and many others.

 

Marceline-Day-in-The-Beloved-Rogue-000

   Marceline Day in "The Beloved Rogue" (1927).


 

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