This was a weekend for back-to-back Robert Montgomery movies: last night was YELLOW JACK (1938), and tonight was an early Montgomery film, OUR BLUSHING BRIDES, costarring Joan Crawford.
I was inspired to get out my tape of OUR BLUSHING BRIDES by Kate's photo essay at Silents and Talkies, which features a remarkable set from the film. It's even more impressive on the screen than it is in photos, the ultimate in imaginative set design.
OUR BLUSHING BRIDES is the very engrossing tale of three young women struggling to make a living working at a department store. Gerry (Joan Crawford) is strongly attracted to Tony (Robert Montgomery), whose family owns the store, but Tony's not necessarily interested in marriage, and Gerry won't compromise her morals. She keeps Tony at a distance, much to his dismay.
Gerry's friend Connie (Anita Page) becomes the mistress of Tony's brother David (Raymond Hackett), which comes to a bad end, and while their other roommate, Frankie (Dorothy Sebastian), achieves marriage to a wealthy man, marrying for money doesn't turn out to be a good idea either. Only Our Girl Joan, holding out for both true love and a ring on her finger, seems destined for ultimate happiness.
OUR BLUSHING BRIDES is the final film in a loose trilogy of Joan Crawford-Anita Page movies; the first two films were the silents OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS (1928), costarring Johnny Mack Brown, and OUR MODERN MAIDENS (1929), which also starred Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Dorothy Sebastian appears in the first and last films. I've recorded both of these films and will be watching them at some point in the future.
Though I've never been a Crawford fan, I've gradually been warming up to her, particularly in her '30s films, thanks to seeing her in a number of movies with costars I especially like. (Links to some of these films are at the conclusion of this post.) I liked Crawford and her sympathetic character very much in this film; it's a strong role and she gives an excellent performance. As for Montgomery, it's no secret here that he's become one of my very favorite actors. I've seen roughly two dozen of his films over the last couple years and liked them all.
The film has some interesting angles to it, including a fashion show which features costumes by MGM's great designer, Adrian; this sequence incorporates a brief Busby Berkeley style swim scene, which actually predates the great Berkeley's work. The film's release in the pre-Code era is also very much in evidence in various ways, from the frank subject matter to the frequent modeling of lingerie.
The Films of Joan Crawford has some excellent stills from the film, although I disagree with the reviewer's assessment of Montgomery's performance.
The supporting cast includes Hedda Hopper, John Miljan, Edward Brophy, Robert O'Connor, Doris Lloyd, and Louise Beavers. Ann Dvorak is said to be one of the models in the film; I'll have to take a closer look the next time I watch it.
OUR BLUSHING BRIDES was directed by Harry Beaumont. It runs 102 minutes.
OUR BLUSHING BRIDES is not available on video or DVD but can be seen on Turner Classic Movies. Click here for a page where you can vote to indicate interest in a DVD release. (March 2014 Update: OUR BLUSHING BRIDES is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive.)
Previous reviews of films costarring Joan Crawford and Robert Montgomery: LETTY LYNTON (1932), FORSAKING ALL OTHERS (1934), NO MORE LADIES (1935), and THE LAST OF MRS. CHEYNEY (1937).
As a postscript, Robert Montgomery fans might enjoy checking out this six-minute photo tribute at YouTube and his hilarious appearance on WHAT'S MY LINE? I also came across a creatively scored homage to Montgomery and Carole Lombard as MR. AND MRS. SMITH (1941)...watching it, it suddenly struck me that there is some similarity between MR. AND MRS. SMITH and PRIVATE LIVES (1931). But that's a subject for another day...