Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Release Date: September 1, 1928
Starring: Joan Crawford, Anita Page, Dorothy Sebastian, and John Mack Brown.
Director: Harry Beaumont
Produer: Hunt Stromberg
Studio: MGM
Running Time: 85 Minutes

It is hard to go wrong with a movie that begins with a close-up of Joan Crawford’s legs and feet, fringe from her dress flying, as she does the Charleston, followed by her putting on a fabulous, graphic-print, fur-trimmed coat. Our Dancing Daughters is worth seeing for the first three minutes alone! But we hope you will take the whole thing in, because visually this silent film is an Art Deco feast, and the movie that brought Deco to the masses in 1928. Plus, it is the vehicle that made Joan Crawford a star (she remained one for the next 50 years), and it is a treat to see her about jumping off the screen and bursting with youthful energy. 

Joan plays “Dangerous” Diana Medford, a gal who hides her heart of gold behind a party girl persona and says things to her mom (who seems a lot cooler with the whole flapper thing than, oh, about 99% of the other parents out there) like, “I’m going to the yacht club—see you at dawn!”
Our Dancing Daughters was the first in a trilogy of films that included Our Modern Maidens and Our Blushing Brides that celebrated the modern, empowered woman. The film was released a year before the stock market crash, so the Jazz Age was at the height of prosperity and exuberance, with people dancing on top of tables, swilling gin, and stripping down to their teddies. Watching a movie as vibrant as Our Dancing Daughters really gives you a sense of what it was like as a whole generation of lovely young things was finding its identity, and it might even inspire you to deck yourself out in dresses with sequins, beading, and fringe. Long necklaces and fur wraps adorn the stars of the movie as they head out to party, and then during the day they sport menswear-inspired attire, looking perfectly chic every moment, thanks to costumes by David Cox and Adrian.   

MGM Art Director Cedric Gibbons gave the sets of Our Dancing Daughters an opulent look with lots of black and white, ginormous staircases, geometric accents, and random dancing figurines. The public saw the movie and said, “Yes, please—we want to live in this style, too,” and the Art Deco craze was launched. Even though many trends have come and gone since Our Dancing Daughters was released, there is a timeless wonderfulness to the film that will most likely motivate you to explore what it meant to be a flapper, and to perhaps experiment with what a well-placed dancing figurine can do for a room. You will also never think of Joan Crawford only as Mommy Dearest ever again.

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