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John S. Robertson
Johnny Mack Brown
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>
OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1928), directed by Harry Beaumont, is memorable today mainly because it made an overnight star of an MGM contractee named Joan Crawford, a resident performer to the studio since 1925. In spite of Crawford's recognition with this particular silent melodrama focusing on three happy-go-lucky party girls out for a wild time finding men, Dorothy Sebastian and Anita Page being the other two in question, it is Page, the third party of the trio, who nearly steals the movie from its lead actress due to her immorality and selfishness to her character. It is this, and Page's performance in MGM's first talkie, THE Broadway MELODY (1929) that will be most remembered by motion picture scholars for years to come, so long as these, and other films like this, continue to be shown on TV and appreciated by a new generation of classic movie lovers.
The story opens with three youthful girls getting themselves ready for another Saturday night on the town: Beatrice (Dorothy Sebastian), a simple-minded girl; Ann (Anita Page), a cute, peppy blonde who's not only immoral and immature, but an out-and-out gold digger; and Diana Bedford (Joan Crawford), a fun-loving socialite noted for her love for fast cars, dancing and wild parties, trying to live her life according to her parental upbringing, on high moral principals. At the party, Diana amuses her friends by stripping off her dress and dancing step-ins. Later, she comes upon Ben Blaine (Johnny Mack Brown), a handsome young man and an heir to millions. Diana becomes very much interested in him, but Ann decides to step in herself, giving Ben the impression that she is pure and innocent. She tricks Ben into marriage, which leaves Ben blind of the fact to what kind of girl Ann really is. As Beatrice finds a partner in marriage with Norman (Nils Asther), Diana remains single, keeping only to herself until sometime later, the unhappily married Ben comes back into her life again, causing friction between Diana and Ann.
As it appears, OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS is a routinely made silent drama that rises above similar stories made during the bygone roaring twenties era. Watching Joan Crawford as a "jazz age" baby in the vogue of Paramount's own Clara Bow, is interesting to see, but unlike Bow, who retired from the screen in 1933, Crawford adapted to the changing of times, presenting herself in costumes and headdress accordingly to the new era, and improving with each passing decade her skillfulness as an actress, which is why she remained in the public eye of motion pictures until her final screen appearance in 1970.
For many years, OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS became the only known silent movie starring Crawford to circulate either in revival theaters or on television, until recently when cable television's Turner Classic Movies resurfaced others, including her other 1928 releases of WEST POINT and ACROSS TO SINGAPORE and 1929's follow-up, OUR MODERN MAIDENS. Interestingly, as in many silent movies of the late twenties, OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS is currently available two ways, in either 97 minutes (video) or a shorter copy at 85 minutes. The video copy, which has written on its storage box includes original music score, but in reality, it is featured with the orchestral score used on public television's 13-week film series tribute to the MGM silent era, MOVIES GREAT MOVIES (1973), which aired on New York City's WNET, Channel 13, hosted by Richard Schickel. The 85 minute version presented on Turner Classic Movies is the one that does include the original 1928 soundtrack along with crowd noises, sound effects and off screen singing by an unknown vocalist crooning "I Love You Then as I Love You Now." A sharp ear will also hear Diana's name being yelled out amongst the crowd. Watching the movie currently available in both these versions with different underscoring is quite acceptable, but it is the original 1928 soundtrack that gives more of the feel, capturing the mood from that era.
Also seen in the supporting cast are Eddie Nugent, Dorothy Cumming, Huntley Gordon, Evelyn Hall and Sam DeGrasse. Fans of Universal's SHERLOCK HOLMES film series of the 1940s starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce will take notice that the character actress who played their landlady, Mrs. Hudson, can be spotted as one of the three scrub women at the bottom of the stairs in one of the more memorable highlights where the drunken Ann (Page) stumbles and falls.
The success of OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS lead to sequels in name only, all featuring Crawford and her names is, Page: the silent OUR MODERN MAIDENS (1929) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr; and the early talkie, OUR BLUSHING BRIDES (1930) with Robert Montgomery and Dorothy Sebastian. With all three being shown from time to time on Turner Classic Movies, the original of the three remains the most memorable. (***)
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