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Our Modern Maidens (1929)
 
Joan Crawford
Our Modern Maidens is an obvious spin-off from Our Dancing Daughters, and like all spin-offs it has its problems. The main one is that, unlike the earlier film, it does not have a dominant theme. It also lacks the complexity that the on-theme sub plot in Our Dancing Daughters brought to the narrative.

There are no great issues in Our Modern Maidens, just a straightforward story. Although having said that, the story is not at all bad. After all it comes from the pen of Josephine Lovett who also wrote the story and scenario for Our Dancing Daughters.

One problem with Our Modern Maidens is the casting. Edward Nugent, who also appeared in Our Dancing Daughters, is fine as "Reg", but he has little to do. Douglas Fairbanks Jr, who plays "Gil", is OK, but he has not yet aquired the presence that he would do later, and unfortunately the shadows around his deep set eyes make him look Boris Karloff. He just does not come across as the boyish innocent he is supposed to be playing.

Anita Page is another problem. She was an extremely accomplished actress and if anybody could have brought "Kentucky" to life it would be her. But the character is one dimensional - not too bright, forever dreaming about "Gil", and blaming herself for everything that goes wrong. Anita Page does a first class job, but she is really wasted in the role.

Rod La Rocque is an unlikely choice for a character named Glenn Abbott, although the studio has tried to make him more believable by giving him roots in the Argentine rather than somewhere in the US. The problem here is he does not project the image of a big-time operator whose friends call him "Dynamite". The part calls for someone with the magnetic presence of Clark Gable who would appear so impressively in Joan Crawford's later film Dance, Fools, Dance.

And of course, the cast are far too old. Both the men and the young women are supposed to have just finished school, and while Anita Page at 19 and Douglas Fairbanks Jr at 20 can just about carry it off, Josephine Dunn (who plays Ginger) was 23, and Joan Crawford and Edward Nugent were both 25.

The direction by Jack Conway does not match up to that of Harry Beamont's Our Dancing Daughters, and neither does the music. In Our Dancing Daughters, the music brought the action to life, but there the music was taken from popular hits. Here Arthur Lang's original score is humdrum to say the least.

However, having said all that, Joan Crawford's performance in Our Modern Maidens is a tour de force. She manages to make you forget she is a twenty-five year old playing nineteen. By strength of personality she convinces the audience that her emotions are real.

Joan Crawford was always a star in whatever film she appeared. She could hold her own with the best - Grand Hotel proved that - and any film starring the young Joan Crawford is always worth seeing.