It’s 1924 at Downton Abbey. We’ve just seen Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) canoodling with one guy in a London theater (Charles Blake) to ward off another (Lord Gillingham) who had mistaken intimacy for love. Mary barely protested when forced to leave Beau Brummel early to disenchant Gillingham. But here are four films out that year that might have distracted the vixen from her flirtations, at least temporarily…
The Marriage Circle
Mizzi (Marie Prevost), a dissatisfied wife, plots to seduce her friend’s husband. And that’s just the beginning of the marital and extramarital scheming in Ernst Lubitsch’s classic comedy of manners. Mizzi could give Lady Mary tips on undermining her frenemy Mabel Lane Fox’s attractions. (The daring Lubitsch would obviously become Mary’s favorite director; two of my four are his films.)
Her Night of Romance
Mary likes the pretty boys, and she couldn’t have missed heartthrob Rudolph Valentino starring in The Sheik three years before.
With Valentino featured AND a character named Lady Mary, Monsieur Beaucaire would lure the Downton heroine to the theater, even though her namesake in the film has too much pride to hold onto the guy (I have no illusions Mary would recognize the similarities).
Lady Mary has been subjected to Russian refugees she doesn’t care to meet, but a powerful czarina in full control of her posse of lovers? That could give Mary some interest in international politics.
Maybe the film would even grant Mary some insight into her grandma’s (the Dowager Countess’s) almost-fling. Here’s hoping.
There you have it. Four films with enough skin, calculation, and female triumph to please the headstrong Lady Mary, maybe even give her some ideas for next season…