Diana is outwardly the hit of the party but inwardly virtuous and idealistic. Her friend Ann is thoroughly selfish and amoral. Both are attracted to Ben Black, soon-to-be millionaire. He ... See full summary »
Diana is outwardly the hit of the party but inwardly virtuous and idealistic. Her friend Ann is thoroughly selfish and amoral. Both are attracted to Ben Black, soon-to-be millionaire. He takes Diana's flirtations with other boys as a sign of disinterest in him and marries Ann. Big mistake. Ben and Diana begin to realize their true love for each other and plan a new life together as drunken Ann falls down the stairs to her death. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
If you have ever stumbled onto one of Joan Crawford's films from the 1950's such as Queen Bee or Sudden Fear, what you see is the caricature of Crawford that she herself seemed to endorse: tough, ballsy and no nonsense. She's inhumane, unreal and kind of scary. You have to wonder where this woman came from and why she is considered a Star. Check out "Our Dancing Daughters" to find out why. At the very least it showcases an appeal that Crawford had that was completely gone by 50s. In it she plays Diana Medford, a rich society girl who is also a great dancer. The plot is simply about a cat fight between Crawford and Anita Page over the rich Ben Blaine (Johnny Mack Brown). Page disparages Crawford to Ben and ends up married to him but Ben never stops loving Diana. Thanks to a melodramatic ending (complete with a drunken confrontation and a fall down a stairs), Diana and Ben end up together (or so it is inferred). So plot wise, there's not much to it and for a lot of people, the film won't hold much appeal outside of seeing what Crawford was like very early in her career. I'm interested by the films of stars that "made" them famous. Too often the films that stars are remembered for aren't really the ones that show their appeal. Take Clark Gable. He's mostly remembered for "Gone With the Wind" but is he really that good in it? I don't think so. He's much better in "Red Dust" and "It Happened One Night". Those are the films where is appeal is very clear. For a somewhat more contemporary view, take someone like Tom Hanks. What is he known for today? "Forrest Gump"? What made Hanks initially appealing to audiences were his comedies like "The Money Pit" or "Turner & Hooch"" and "Splash". Getting back to Crawford and "Our Dancing Daughters" it's this early appealing side of Crawford that is so interesting. She's very attractive here. Not beautiful but very pretty and that's an important distinction: Crawford connected with her female fans (and supposedly her fan mail greatly increased after this movie) because she was accessible, not an aloof, above it all beauty like Garbo. You genuinely feel for her as the movie progresses and then there's a protectiveness that develops in the viewer. At the end, when she "triumphs", you feel like the order of things has been restored. These feelings are due entirely to Crawford. What is fascinating is how completely opposite her later films are. Some of them are grotesques and others just feel clueless like Crawford was trying anything to bring back success. Crawford was good in "Mildred Pierce" but after that each of her films became more strained and some (like "Torch Song") were truly odd and campy. Crawford's legacy would have been completely different had she simply faded away like so many stars of the late 20s and 30s did. Perhaps most are forgotten (does anyone outside of film buffs really talk about Norma Shearer?) but is being remembered now as a grotesque, campy figure any better than being forgotten?
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