When Knighthood Was in Flower (1922 film)

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When Knighthood Was in Flower
When knighthood was in flower 1922 - publicityhalfsheet.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Robert G. Vignola
Produced by William Randolph Hearst
Based on When Knighthood Was in Flower
by Charles Major
Starring Marion Davies
Music by William Frederick Peters
Victor Herbert (additional music)
Cinematography Ira H. Morgan
Harold Wenstrom
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • September 14, 1922 (1922-09-14)
Running time
12 reels; 11,618 feet (120 minutes)
Country United States
Language Silent
Budget $1.5 million
Box office $1,000,000 (US/CA)

When Knighthood Was in Flower is a 1922 silent historical film based on the novel When Knighthood Was in Flower by Charles Major and play by Paul Kester. The film was produced by William Randolph Hearst (or his Cosmopolitan Productions) for his 'live-in companion' Marion Davies and distributed by Paramount Pictures. The director was veteran Robert G. Vignola who helmed several of Davies costume romances. This was William Powell's second film. The story was re-filmed in the sound era in 1953 as The Sword and the Rose by Ken Annakin.[1][2]


Mary Tudor, Queen of France (Marion Davies), the younger sister of King Henry VIII (Lyn Harding), falls in love with commoner Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk (Forrest Stanley). There are other plans for Mary, however; she is supposed to make a politically strategic marriage to the elderly King Louis XII of France (William Norris). Brandon is framed for murder, but Mary, disguised as a boy, helps him to escape. Henry tracks down his sister and her lover at a Bristol Inn, and Mary agrees to wed the French king if Brandon's life is spared. After Brandon is exiled, Mary goes ahead with the wedding, but King Louis, in his attempt to prove he is lively enough for such a pretty young bride, drops dead. His nephew and heir to the throne, Francis (William Powell), wants to wed Mary, but Brandon comes to the rescue. When Henry discovers that his sister and Brandon have married, he remarks, "I should have consented in the first place, and saved us all this trouble."


Left to right: Lyn Harding, Marion Davies, Forrest Stanley


  • Betty Brown - extra
  • Black Diamond the Horse -
  • Winchester the Horse -
  • George Ogle - ?
  • Dorothy Portingall - ?
  • Andrew Quirk - Courtier
  • Mortimer Snow -


Exteriors were shot at Windsor Castle, England. With an estimated cost of $1,500,000, it was considered by Life "the most expensive film that has ever been produced" in 1922.[3] According to Variety, William Randolph Hearst who owned Cosmopolitan Productions launched "the most expensive and extensive campaign that has ever been organized for anything theatrical", with over 650 billboards in New York, 300 subway advertising placards, special booths in department stores that sold souvenir books, and a dazzling string of electric signs that pervaded Times Square.[4]

Marion Davies makes her entrance coming down the river on a royal barge. The barge was a full-sized replica built in Bridgeport, CT. The scene was filmed on the Ladder Rock estate outside Bridgeport. Hearst commissioned two songs from Victor Herbert: "The When Knighthood Was in Flower Waltz" and "The Marion Davies March," which were played at the New York premiere.[5] Ben Model used portions of these songs in his score for the 2017 restoration of the film.


The film was very popular and was the sixth biggest hit of the year in the US. When it was released, the theatres were filled with flowers for theatrical effect.[6] Playwright Robert E. Sherwood considered it one of the best pictures of the year.[7] The Motion Picture Guide praised the film for its "tremendous production values, excellent direction, a good script, and an outstanding cast", giving it three out of four stars.[8]

The film was a triumph for Marion Davies, and she was named "Queen of the Screen" and the #1 female box office star of 1922 at the annual theater owners ball (Rudolph Valentino was named #1 male star).[9]


  1. ^ When Knighthood Was in Flower at the silentera.com database
  2. ^ When Knighthood Was in Flower as produced by Charles Frohman on the Broadway stage at the Criterion Theatre January 14, 1901 to June 1901, 176 performances; IBDb.com database
  3. ^ Life, Volume 80, p.208
  4. ^ Samantha Barbas,The First Lady of Hollywood: A Biography of Louella Parsons, University of California Press, 2006, p.82
  5. ^ Lorusso, Edward (2017) The Silent Films of Marion Davies, CreateSpace, p. 76.
  6. ^ Variety list of box office champions for 1922
  7. ^ John T. Soister, American Silent Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Feature Films, 1913-1929, McFarland, 2012, p.41
  8. ^ Jay Robert Nash, Robert Connelly, Stanley Ralph Ross, Motion Picture Guide Silent Film 1910-1936, Cinebooks, 1988, p. 303
  9. ^ Lorusso, Edward (2017) The Silent Films of Marion Davies, CreateSpace, p. 96.

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