Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Our Dancing Daughters (1928) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Joan Crawford and Johnny Mack Brown star in the silent film OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS (1928), available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

This was the first of an informal OUR... trilogy starring Crawford and Anita Page; it continued with another silent, OUR MODERN MAIDENS (1929), and wrapped up with the talkie OUR BLUSHING BRIDES (1930). All three films are available from the Warner Archive.

OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS is a Jazz Age melodrama in which Joan stars as party-loving Diana, who crushes on Ben (Brown), a handsome millionaire newly arrived in town from Alabama.

Ben's pursued by gold-digger Ann (Page), who puts on an innocent act but only wants his money, planning to live a life of "freedom" after snaring a wedding ring.

Meanwhile quiet Beatrice (Dorothy Sebastian) loves Norman (Nils Asther), but she has a "past" which complicates her decision to marry him. Can he forgive and forget?

This was a highly entertaining depiction of the Roaring '20s society scene; early on there's an iconic shot of balloons in a party sequence which is a real "wow."

Crawford's wild child character is rather like Colleen Moore's in WHY BE GOOD? (1929); she puts on an act to draw attention and popularity but is a "good girl" at heart.

Ben, however, doesn't understand this and falls for Ann's lines about wanting to be "worthy" of a husband and their babies. He quickly regrets the marriage once his eyes are opened to Ann's true nature -- and Diana's. Having seen Brown in a number of Westerns from the late '40s and early '50s, it's fun to see him in this as young, handsome matinee idol. He and Crawford were reunited the following year in MONTANA MOON (1930).

Some of the film's attitudes may seem antiquated to modern viewers, yet looking at the issue honestly, one can understand the awkwardness Norman feels over his beloved having been intimate with other members of their "crowd." However, he knew that going into the marriage so his tantrums after that point make him seem churlish.

Also, Diana claims that she values living a life of truth and not lies, but wasn't her party girl behavior rather a lie in and of itself? Questions like this are part of what makes the film so entertaining, though; besides being a fast-moving, interesting, and eye-catching melodrama, the film raises some thought-provoking issues. I really enjoyed it.

OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS runs 84 minutes. It was directed by Harry Beaumont and filmed by George Barnes.

The supporting cast includes Kathlyn Williams, Edward J. Nugent, Dorothy Cumming, Huntley Gordon, and Mary Gordon.

The print is fairly rough at times, with some faded scenes and lots of scratches, but I suspect this is as good as it gets for this 1928 film, and it's entirely watchable despite not being a pristine picture. Happily the synchronized music and sound effects track sounds great.

There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.

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