Plot & Details
In the journalistic tradition of the late publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst, the made-for-TV The Hearst and Davies Affair is superficial, but undeniably entertaining. Robert Mitchum plays Hearst, who at 52 takes 18-year-old Ziegfeld Follies girl Marion Davies (Virginia Madsen) as his mistress. The film repeats the standard party line that Hearst was deeply in love with Marion and would have married her had his wife granted him a divorce. We are offered a wide-eyed, good-natured Marion Davies who embarks upon an acting career only because "The Boss" wants her to. The controversial Thomas Ince affair, in which a famous movie producer died under mysterious circumstances on Hearst's yacht, has long been a subject of speculation (did Hearst shoot Ince because the latter had been carrying on with Marion?) No opinions are offered herein: Ince dies, he's borne off the yacht, and we're off to the next anecdote. The climactic scenes, set in the huge Hearst estate of San Simeon, were actually filmed in a Canadian mansion (the Hearst heirs are still a bit touchy on the subject of Marion Davies). Originally telecast January 14, 1985, The Hearst and Davies Affair is enjoyable, but our vote still goes to Citizen Kane (1941), Orson Welles' a clef version of the same story.