Saturday, December 27, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Montana Moon (1930) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

This year I've been enjoying Westerns of the late '40s and early '50s starring Johnny Mack Brown, so it was interesting to back up to much earlier in his career and watch him in MONTANA MOON (1930). MONTANA MOON is a romantic drama costarring Joan Crawford which is available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

Joan plays Joan Prescott, a wealthy, flighty flapper who sneaks off of her father's private train when it pulls into a rural station in order to escape the unwanted attentions of slimy Jeff (Ricardo Cortez). Joan's sister Elizabeth (Dorothy Sebastian) loves Jeff, but while Jeff is playing up to Elizabeth he also puts the moves on her sister.

Joan quickly meets Larry (Brown), a sweet-tempered cowboy with a thick Southern drawl, and they marry in short order. All is well until they visit Joan's family and Joan wants to party all night with her shallow, lazy friends, while Larry expects to be in the saddle working early in the morning.

Larry also doesn't like the morals, or lack thereof, of Joan's gang, especially Jeff, and after Larry sees Jeff and Joan engage in a sultry tango, he's had enough. Can this marriage be saved?

This is a fairly creaky though watchable movie. The script isn't especially good, and it's particularly inexplicable why Joan seems to have no problems with Jeff when they meet again, given that she left a train in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, in order to avoid him.

On the plus side, Joan and John (as he's billed) are both pleasant personalities and it's fun to watch them when they were quite young, though they were still somewhat unpolished performers; Brown, in particular, is rather stiff and awkward at times, miles from the comfortable, casually charming persona of his later Westerns -- and with a much thicker accent! The line deliveries at times make him sound rather dim-witted, but then he smiles and one can see what Joan sees in him.

There are also some nice musical sequences, such as Cliff ("When You Wish Upon a Star") Edwards singing "The Moon is Low" by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown.

All in all, it's a film which holds the interest but should have been quite a bit better. It will be of the most interest to fans of Crawford and Brown or those interested in the early years of sound films.

The supporting cast includes Mary Carlisle, who is due to turn 101 or 102, depending on the source, in early February. The cast also includes Lloyd Ingraham, Claudia Dell, and Benny Rubin, whose comic routines I found tiresome.

This 89-minute movie was directed by Malcolm St. Clair. It was filmed by William H. Daniels, with location work in Idyllwild and at the Chatsworth, California train station.

The print and sound of MONTANA MOON are quite nice given the film's age. There are no extras on the Warner Archive DVD.

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 at the Warner Archive website.


Blogger Eliza Noel said...

This movie looks good! I think I'll watch it sometime if I can find it somewhere :)

9:04 AM  

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