|Index||8 reviews in total|
There is considerable energy in this Joan Crawford vehicle, and it
favorably with some of her other films of the period - it is much more
engaging than Laughing Sinners, for example. A number of scenes are very
short, and the story moves along briskly. Perhaps the biggest surprise is
the performance of Pauline Frederick as Crawford's mother - she is
believable and touching, and evokes great sympathy as a woman in a
situation. The settings, of course, are sumptuous in that art deco MGM
that is so appealing from the distance of more than 70 years. Also
noteworthy is that although this is a drama, there is a fair amount of
throughout. It is not one of the depressing, heavy-going melodramas
of the period.
Fast-paced soaper set in Paris during an era in which `nobody cares' what
you do. Upon the death of her father, an innocent `nineteen' year-old blonde
Joan Crawford seeks out and is reunited with her divorced expatriate mother.
The mother comes to realize that a chance at a renewed relationship with her
daughter is worth more than a long-standing relationship with the Frenchman
who has been paying her way for years. Mother and daughter move in
Complications with the boyfriend a Harvard football man from a good American family. The kids fall hard for each other but when his parents see the kind of mother and friends she has well there is the dickens to pay. A more sour looking pair would have been hard to find. Joan looks great (but not 19) in this movie and does a good job at being aghast when she finds out the truth about her mother.
Joan plays a girl whose world is to: make virtue of vice, never take anything seriously, and always be amusing. Yet she rebels against her mother's behavior. Will the daughter reconcile with and accept her mother for who she is? Can the sourpusses ever forgive the scandalous behavior of a fallen woman? Does a woman need a man before she is really happy (will those darn kids get together in the end)? Or will Joan run off instead and seek fulfillment elsewhere? These questions and more are answered in the dramatic conclusion of `This Modern Age.'
...plus it's a good vehicle for Joan Crawford and, for that matter, the
rest of the cast too. This is an example of an MGM precode society
drama in which the sin of being too virtuous seems to be the central
The story opens with Di Winter (Pauline Frederick) planning a trip with her married lover, André de Graignon (Albert Conti). Di had divorced her husband years ago, apparently was judged an unfit character by the court, and had her daughter taken from her and not even allowed visitation. Di then moves to France, and eventually becomes the long time mistress of the wealthy Andre. Andre, in return, furnishes her with a lovely house and clothes to match, servants, and in general a very luxurious lifestyle. Out of the blue, Di gets a letter notifying her that her long lost daughter Val (Joan Crawford) is on her way for a visit. Val turns out to be a good mixture of mom and dad - she has mom's fun loving ways balanced with dad's moral compass.
Val lacks experience with the kind of people her mother rubs elbows with and the high life in general, since she has lived a rather sheltered life. She finds two suitors. Tony is a free spirit who takes everyone as they are with no judgment, but he has no use for marriage. Bob is a more conventional sort and the marrying kind whose parents' ancestors not only came over on the Mayflower, either one of them could easily be confused with Plymouth Rock itself. They are that stuffy and very judgmental. Which suitor and accompanying lifestyle will Val ultimately choose? On top of that Di has lied to her daughter about who exactly owns her house and where her money comes from. To make matters worse Andre is getting tired of paying Di's bills and getting no bang for his buck since daughter Val moved in. All of this together makes for good drama indeed and a great showcase for the talents of all concerned. Plus it was good to see an older woman (Miss Frederick) playing an attractive woman and an object of desire. That's something you'd never see in a popular film today and that's the reason that great actresses with 50 year careers like that of Joan Crawford are likely to remain forever in the past.
Two stars of different generations combine their talents in This Modern
Age which does not prove to be all that modern even for 1931. Pauline
Frederick and Joan Crawford are mother and daughter in this MGM film
and it's about a reunion that brings out a few issues and unpleasant
truths. In later years it would be Joan cast as the mother with a past.
In her flapper years Crawford is looking forward to a trip to Paris where she will reunite with Frederick after many years separation. Along the way she meets All American Harvard football player Neil Hamilton and his straightlaced parents Hobart Bosworth and Emma Dunn.
But later on she meets two male acquaintances of Frederick, drunken playboy Monroe Owsley who might have been cast her instead of Crawford's good friend William Haines. It's very much a Haines type role. And there's this friend of Mom's the titled Albert Conti. They're very good friends indeed.
A great deal of Puritan moralizing is offered in This Modern Age. In the end it all works out for the lovebirds.
A really creaky old time vehicle, This Modern Age is palatable for today's audiences by the performances of Crawford and Frederick.
"This Modern Age" is a Joan Crawford film that looks like the picture
was rushed into production before the script was finalized. It just
seems to have some rough spots as well as an ending that isn't very
The film begins with Val moving to France to see her mother--a woman who she hasn't seen in many years. That's because her parents divorced when she was young and Val was brought up by her dad in the States. While Val's desire to get to know her mother is reasonable, she doesn't realize that her mother is NOT the nice lady she thinks she is--she's a kept woman whose nice home actually belongs to her rich lover. In essence, she's an older prostitute--one whose current keeper is tiring of her.
At first, Val falls in with some vacuous party animals. When she's out with Tony one night, the car wrecks and she's rescued by a rich and handsome guy, Bob (Neil Hamilton). The pair begin dating and soon they are contemplating marriage. All they need to do is have her meet his parents. This goes just fine. But, when his parents come to her home, it's a bit of a disaster, as her old gadabout friends arrive and behave quite boorishly. However, that's NOT what bothers Bob--it's when he overhears a conversation with her mother and her lover--and he learns the truth. Bob is still interested in marrying Val, but he wants her to leave her mother and this raunchy life. She thinks he's just a snob (well, he IS a bit of a snob) and tells him to get lost. Then, when her mother realizes what's happened, she admits to Val that she is indeed a skank. What's next? See this and find out for yourself. However, be forewarned that the ultimate resolution comes WAY too quickly and isn't the least bit realistic.
Overall, this is an A-picture whose script make it look like a cheap B-movie. Predictable and a bit silly.
This Modern Age (1931)
** (out of 4)
Fair soap opera from MGM has Valentine Winters (Joan Crawford) going to stay with her mother (Pauline Frederick) and quickly falling in love with a rich man (Neil Hamilton) from a good family. Valentine realizes that this man could give her all she wanted in life but he and his family objects to her friends and especially her mother. The factory known as MGM serves great for fans today because it means their favorite stars were pumping out a number of films each year unlike today where you get one if you're lucky. With so many films being pumped out it's really no shock that most of them would be forgotten today had it not been for the fact that they featured a legend. THIS MODERN AGE is a rather predictable melodrama but it remains interesting thanks in large part to Crawford who is dashing as ever. The story itself is a pretty weak one as the girl must pick between money or her mother. This plays out in a way you pretty much see coming from a mile away and I certainly doubt that anyone is going to be shocked by the ending. The entire premise of nobody caring about what happens was an interesting setting but there simply wasn't enough done with it. This atmosphere does lead to some eye rolling bits including a drunk driving scene, which ends in an accident but it's all played for laughs, which certainly doesn't sit too well today. Crawford easily steals the film as the innocent girl who just likes to have fun. The legend perfectly handles every aspect of the performance and she manages to mix it up well with the supporting cast. Both Frederick and Hamilton are good in their parts as well. Fans of Crawford will certainly want to check this one out but a better screenplay certainly would have helped things.
I hated this movie. A blonde Joan Crawford plays a girl whose father died so she wants to meet her estranged mother. Well, Moms is a trashy old broad living it up in Paris on some French guy's dime. So Joan comes to Paris and very quickly finds she likes her mother's lifestyle and friends. She gets into a drunk driving accident thanks to the douchebag her classy mom set her up with. Then stuffy Neil Hamilton shows up and helps pull the two of them from the wreck. This is all treated very lightly. Anyway, Joan and Neil start to date but Neil's parents don't approve of her friends. I could go on but it's all very tedious and who cares. This is a stinker. What an unlikable group of characters. Everybody dresses nicely and enunciates all their words ever so properly yet I couldn't help but need a bath after watching them! At least Joan looks nice. Avoid this unless you're an avid Crawford fan.
Diane Winters (Pauline Frederick) opens a letter to learn that her
nineteen year old daughter is coming to live with her. Valentine (Joan
Crawford) arrives timidly but quickly learns to love her mother. She
does not know, however, that her mother is a kept woman living a lavish
lifestyle thanks to a wealthy benefactor. Rich people flock to the home
including Tony Girard (Monroe Owsley), a lovesick drunk who befriend
Valentine. She also meets the respectable Bob Blake Jr. (Neil Hamilton)
who she hopes to wed, until she realizes that their families clash.
This is a good early talkie because it doesn't suffer from being a film for the sake of being a film. It has an actual story which is performed well by the cast. It is a bit short and not emotional enough to be considered a great film, but if you're a fan of early Crawford films like I am, you'll enjoy yourself.
Speaking of Crawford, it is a bit ironic that her character is so moral here. The drunk driving accident brings up the hit-and-run trouble she had in her own life and her stance against her mother's lifestyle is in stark contrast to her true beliefs.
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