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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 <email@example.com>
Our Dancing Daughters is a beautiful example of how far the silent cinema had come by 1928, the year it decisively decided to give itself up to talk. The medium had reached a point where the action was silent but synchronized to a score and embellished with occasional sound effects such as knocking on doors, ringing of phones or a spoken word here and there. It was the short-lived pinnacle of a dying art form. These feature films from the late silent period provide valuable insight for composers who are supplying music for previously unscored silents.
This solidly constructed and well-shot story follows the trajectories of three young females of differing temperaments living through various stages of being young and wild in the roaring twenties. We have Diana Medford (Joan Crawford), a straightforward, unashamedly pleasure-loving, self-absorbed but basically decent sort who lives to dance and generally party around. Then there is the more serious and experienced Beatrice (Dorothy Sebastian), whose fiancé (Nils Asther) chooses to overlook her wayward past as long as she will marry him and retreat from the party circuit. Finally there is Ann (Anita Page), a coldhearted golddigger who lures the dashing millionaire Ben Blaine (John Mack Brown) away from Diana by pretending to be an innocent maiden simply yearning for marriage and motherhood. At first it seems as if Diana is a hellcat, but her splashy demeanor is merely the honest excess of youth. Life has its knocks prepared for her and she has to take them, which she does nobly and sportingly. Not Ann. She turns to drink, with disastrous results.
Each of the three main characters is introduced by shots of their legs and feet: Crawford's slipping into heels to shimmy in front of a mirror; Sebastian's planted firmly next to her fiancé's as they attentively listen to a pre-date lecture by her parents; Page's seen while seated on the floor, removing a pair of ripped silk stockings, preparatory to stealing a pair of from her mother.
The soundtrack is made up of a small number of musical compositions from the period, repeated throughout the film. There are up-tempo dance numbers for the party scenes and slow ballads for the one-on-one romantic clinches. The photography is uniformly beautiful with generous use of medium close-ups, all against the backdrop of sumptuous sets designed by Cedric Gibbons. Great looking costumes too.
Crawford and Page are both stunning embodiments of the light and dark sides of "the flapper." Sebastian's role is less flashy. None of the performances is dated.
Most documentaries that deal at any length with "roaring twenties," the Great Depression or the Golden Age of Hollywood inevitably include a bit from this film, usually the party where balloons fill the air as Crawford dances exuberantly on a table top.
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