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Film / When Knighthood Was in Flower

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When Knighthood Was in Flower is a 1922 film directed by Robert G. Vignola, starring Marion Davies.

It is set at the court of King Henry VIII, and stars Davies as the king's sister, Mary Tudor. Vivacious young Mary is a highly sought-after marriage candidate both for her noble standing and her beauty. Her brother Henry decides to marry her to Louis XII, king of France, to cement an alliance between the two countries. There are a couple of problems with this, however. Mary is scornful of the idea that she is a pawn to be married off. She is particularly repulsed by the idea of marrying Louis, who is a doddering old man. And most inconveniently for Henry, his sister has fallen in love with Charles Brandon, a captain in Henry's guard. They are determined to be married no matter what.

Produced by William Randolph Hearst, Davies' paramour; the most successful of the elaborate costume dramas Davies made during this era. A 30-year-old William Powell, in only his second movie, appears as Francis, King Louis's nephew and heir (later King Francis I).


  • Abhorrent Admirer: King Louis XII is pretty stoked at the idea of getting a hot young wife, but Mary is much less enthusiastic about him. Francis, young and handsome but thoroughly creepy, is abhorrent to Mary in a whole different way.
  • After Action Patch Up: Mary helps bandage up the cut on Charles's hand after he gets hurt defending her from the Duke of Buckingham's goons.
  • And Starring: After everyone else in the cast is introduced in the opening credits with their name and picture, there's a card that says simply "And", followed by Davies' picture and name.
  • Arranged Marriage: Mary is pissed off at the idea that she'll be married to the king of France.
  • Artistic License – History: Charles Brandon was not a commoner. He was the son of a knight—Henry VII's bannerman at Bosworth Field, in fact—and had grown up in the Tudor court. He was created Duke of Suffolk before he got married to Mary. And there was no dramatic flight from Francis's court, although they did get married in secret without telling her brother.
  • Bound and Gagged: Done to the king of France, as Charles and Mary tie up Francis before their hasty departure from court.
  • Fortune Teller: Grammont the creepy "soothsayer", who predicts that Mary will be queen of France before a death makes her happy. He's right.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: "King Louis is determined to show his young queen that he is a gay and romantic youth."
  • Love at First Sight: Mary is enchanted with Charles from the moment she first sees him, at a jousting tournament.
  • Neutral Female: Mary just sort of cowers as Charles tries to fight off Henry's men. This is a particularly odd example, as Mary had shown in the scene immediately before that one that she is an excellent sword fighter when fighting off the creeps at the inn (Marion Davies took intensive fencing lessons).
  • Ominous Owl: The creepy soothsayer's lair is made doubly creepy by the scary owl perched right behind him.
  • Rebellious Princess: Mary refuses to obey her brother and be used as a marriage pawn.
  • Right Behind Me: Mary goes on an angry rant about how there's no way her brother will make her get married, "though he be seven times the king of England", and is embarrassed to realize that he has entered the room and is standing right behind her.
  • Splash of Color: The torches of the posse chasing Charles and Mary are colored yellow, as is the lantern of the random guy who gives them directions.
  • Standard Royal Court: Didn't become a Decadent Court until later, when Henry started cycling through wives and lopping off heads. In 1514 the biggest problem was getting the king's sister married off.
  • Uptown Girl: The main source of plot tension, as the king's sister falls in love with a commoner.
  • Young Future Famous People: Anne Boleyn pops up in one scene as a lady-in-waiting that Henry dances with.