Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1929. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Story and continuity by Josephine Lovett, titles by Marian Ainslee, Ruth Cummings. Cinematography by Oliver T. Marsh. Produced by Jack Conway, Hunt Stromberg. Music by Arthur Lange. Production Design by Cedric Gibbons. Costume Design by Adrian. Film Editing by Sam Zimbalist.
The success of Our Dancing Daughters naturally meant that the studio was obliged to give the studio more of what the people wanted, resulting in this worthy follow-up that reunited Joan Crawford and Anita Page with screenwriter Josephine Lovett. Last time, Lovett was warning us about judging women on appearance, this time she was warning modern girls to wield their newfound powers wisely. Crawford is in love with and secretly engaged to Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (to whom she’d soon be married in real life) and, in an effort to help him with his political career, decides to sweet-talk a visiting American diplomat (Rod La Rocque) into helping her get her man a job in his Paris office. Her flirting with La Rocque is perfectly harmless but the plan backfires badly, as the older gentleman falls in love with her and she’s unable to deny returning some feelings, while Fairbanks spends the free time she’s given him with Page and trouble results there as well. For all that this sounds like painfully soapy drama, Lovett’s script avoids moralizing, emphasizing instead that the opposite to a heavily codified society isn’t a free one but a responsible one, leading to a climax at Crawford and Fairbanks’ wedding and a very unusual twist towards the end (that it was made pre-Code really helps them work things out to everyone’s satisfaction). While not as peppy as the previous film, it’s still a beautifully shot and intelligent indulgence that features Crawford once again showing herself the true towering genius among her peers.