Our Modern Maidens (1929)

JACK CONWAY

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.

USA, 1929. . Story and continuity by , titles by , . Cinematography by . Produced by , . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

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 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 (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 () 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.

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