Marion Davies had been in pictures for a decade when she was approached to star in Show People, director King Vidor’s 1928 parody of the soon-to-end silent-movie era. She refused the part, loosely based on the career of Gloria Swanson, but Vidor realized it wasn’t her decision: Her jealous lover, William Randolph Hearst, was pleased that Davies would be cast opposite William Haines, who was openly gay—but Hearst couldn’t abide a scene in which Davies was to be hit in the face with a pie. Vidor changed the pie to a shot of seltzer water, and the movie was on. Davies plays country girl Peggy Pepper, who moves to Hollywood and becomes a slapstick star, and ultimately is remade as dramatic actress Patricia Pepoire, despite her limited acting skills. Much of Hollywood was in on the gag, and Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks make cameo appearances. The film shows at 1 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th St. & Constitution Ave. NW. Free. (202) 737-4215.

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