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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 Blaine, soon-to-be millionaire. He takes Diana's flirtations with other boys as a sign of disinterest in him and marries Ann. Big mistake.Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
It sounds absurd, but I would suggest that Harry Beaumont's 1928 silent film Our Dancing Daughters would make an amusing double bill with Whit Stillman's 1990 film Metropolitan. Both films are rather sophisticated critiques of life among society's elite, the gala balls, the flippant attitudes, and crushing realities of romance, treachery and friendship. Written by three women, Our Dancing Daughters is an interesting example of early female empowerment, teaching women that being true to yourself is better than letting others shape you to their ends.
A young Joan Crawford, Anita Page, and Dorothy Sebastian play three wild girls in the early Jazz age who are coming to terms with their place in society and the repercussions of their "flapper" ways. Crawford is "dangerous" Diana, wild, intelligent, and sexual beyond her years. She's unapologetically flirtatious and provocative. Page is Anne, saucy and flirtatious as well. Anne is also poorer than her friends and her mother is counting on her to marry into wealth, urging her to use her virtue as a tool. Sebastian's Beatrice is largely reformed, but she has some kind of past, which bothers her more than it bothers the man who's devoted to her (at first, at least). When Johnny Mack Brown's Ben Blaine (a millionaire and former college football star) enters the picture, he falls for Diana and Anne decides that she will win his heart.
In one of her earliest roles, Crawford is amazing. If you've only seen her later performances (like her Oscar winning Mildred Pierce) or Faye Dunaway's impression of her in Mommie Dearest, it's possible to forget just how beautiful and lively she was. She's a marvelously liberated character, the type woman Hollywood frequently featured in the late silent period before forgetting about them for decades of regressive female characters. She is supported by her parents and feels strength in her independence. When she sees herself falling in love, she seems genuinely surprised and when Anne steps in, she seems genuinely heartbroken.
Our Dancing Daughters (lensed by George Barnes, who later shot several Hitchcock classics like Rebecca) is a rather joyous production when it isn't commenting on society and gender. The film had a jazzy original score written for it and the film comes alive during the several large party/dance scenes. Showing all of the freedom that late-silent films allowed, the camera is mobile and amidst the dancing. The film also features several moments of synchronized sound, mostly involving applause from the crowd.
Our Dancing Daughters is intellectually ahead of its time and it features excellent performances and fine writing. I'm telling you, look at it with Metropolitan. I bet it works well.
I'd give this one a solid and positive 7.5 out of 10.
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