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Silent dramedy that made Joan Crawford a star. 3.5 Stars

Harry Beaumont’s Our Dancing Daughters is an entertaining silent comedy-drama: a notable concoction that offered Joan Crawford the laughter, the tears, the dance moves, and the splendiferous clothes that would assure her a place in movie stardom that she’d enjoy for the next forty-two years.

Our Dancing Daughters (1928)
Released: 01 Sep 1928
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 85 min
Director: Harry Beaumont
Genre: Drama
Cast: Joan Crawford, Johnny Mack Brown, Nils Asther
Writer(s): Josephine Lovett, Marian Ainslee, Ruth Cummings
Plot: A flapper who's secretly a good girl and a gold digging floozy masquerading as an ingénue both vie for the hand of a millionaire.
IMDB rating: 6.7
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: MGM
Distributed By: Warner Archive
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: Other
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 24 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: keep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: All
Release Date: 01/10/2023
MSRP: $21.99

The Production: 3.5/5

Joan Crawford became a full-fledged film star in Harry Beaumont’s Our Dancing Daughters, a movie that finally put her front and center after she had made herself known two years earlier in a supporting role in Sally, Irene, and Mary. Here, she may not be the whole show, but she’s the one you remember when the film fades to black, instantly donning the flapper image that’d she’d claim as her own until she’d reinvent herself for the first time a few years later and adopt another comfortable screen image for her millions of fans.

Devil-may-care flapper Diana Medford (Joan Crawford) is the life of the party wherever she goes, but she has her standards and isn’t the girl of easy virtue which a quick glance at her might suggest. That title is actually held by quiet but previously promiscuous Bea (Dorothy Sebastian) whose parents believe she’s as pure as the driven snow. She’s actually ready to elope with boyfriend Norman (Nils Asther) as soon as she can manage it. Middle class Ann (Anita Page) is lying in wait for a man of great wealth, and she spies him in former Alabama quarterback Ben Blaine (John Mack Brown), heir to millions. At a party, Ben is initially taken by Diana’s love of life, but Ann’s pretense of wanting a settled and quiet life tricks him into proposing to her, and they marry, much to Diana’s great heartbreak. She had thought being honest was the right way to win someone’s love rather than resorting to tricks, but when she loses Ben to Ann, she begins to maybe rethink her life and her principles.

The screenplay by Marion Ainslee and Ruth Cummings certainly isn’t covering any new ground even in 1928 with its tale of three young ladies looking for love. Set in its then-present day, the Roaring Twenties, we see how the upper class lives: the lavish parties with plenty of booze flowing and frenzied dancing by the star of the movie, the romantic horseback rides by the oceanside, the midnight suppers, the palatial homes, and the miniskirts of the era bedecked with sparkles and spangles, all captured beautifully by director Harry Beaumont who makes even a simple overhead shot of balloons cascading down on a party something truly magisterial. Filmed near the end of the silent era, the movie features music and sound effects and even some singing on the soundtrack, popular songs of the day like “I Love You Now as I Loved You Then” (the film’s undoubted theme song), “Brokenhearted” (when Diana learns she’s lost Ben to the scheming Ann), and “Poor Li’l Bluebird.” The film’s climax isn’t much of a surprise (one wonders if folks at the time were caught off guard?), but it’s clear that dramadies were as popular then as they remain today.

Joan Crawford is certainly given the star treatment throughout. We’re introduced to her dancing a frenzied Charleston as she dresses for an evening party: slipping into her panties effortlessly (cleverly filmed from the knees down) and then into her very short but eye-popping dress and wrap (as pre-Code in its daring here as one might imagine), and she later takes off a layer of her dress to dance at the party in even skimpier garb! But she’s allowed the full gamut of emotions: carefree, tender, distraught, and determined, but she never overdoes it, instinctively holding her emotions in check without becoming overtly melodramatic. Anita Page goes in the opposite direction with some drunken overacting later in the movie that pretty much illustrates why her star faded while Joan’s rose to ever-greater heights as the silent era gave way to sound. Dorothy Sebastian is rather colorless as Bea, the girl with many former lovers whose husband, the rather stolid Nils Asther, can’t get her past out of his mind. John Mack Brown is an appealing leading man even if he’s given less to do than he should being the object of desire of the film’s two leading ladies. Kathlyn Williams has some effective moments as Ann’s grasping mother for whom money is king. Edward Nugent has an appealing presence as everyone’s favorite party boy Freddie.

Video: 4/5

3D Rating: NA

The film is framed in its original theatrical 1.37:1 aspect ratio and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Though clean of all of its age-related dirt, dust, and debris and with no telltale scratches or missing frames to distract from the viewing, the image quality is always pleasing if not always as sharp or detailed as one would like (though, in its defense, it is almost a century old). The movie has been divided into 34 chapters.

Audio: 4.5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix offers good fidelity for the orchestra and appropriate sound effects where needed (there’s even a word or two spoken on the soundtrack). The three songs used as accompaniment for the action seem a bit tinnier in tone than the rest of the music, however, giving the soundtrack a bit of inconsistency. There are no problems with hiss, pops, crackle, or flutter.

Special Features: 0/5

There are no bonuses at all with this release.

Overall: 3.5/5

Harry Beaumont’s Our Dancing Daughters is an entertaining silent comedy-drama: a notable concoction that offered Joan Crawford the laughter, the tears, the dance moves, and the splendiferous clothes that would assure her a place in movie stardom that she’d enjoy for the next forty-two years.

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Published by

Matt Hough


View thread (3 replies)


Second Unit
Feb 26, 2001
Two that come to mind though Im not sure these would be the top of my list: Noah's Ark 1928 (mostly because it was a notoriously dangerous shoot, perhaps the inspiration for the deaths of extras portrayed in Babylon) and Ben Hur 1925 out of curiosity for the spectacle when cameras were free to move around. I realize both exist in crummy SD versions. But a good blu ray would be welcome.