OUR MODERN MAIDENS is the follow-up to OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS — it also stars Joan Crawford and Anita Page, just like its predecessor, and deals with the emotional travails of poor little rich girl jazz baby flappers — the problematic working class character has been eliminated so we can all relax and enjoy the minor emotional problems of the fabulously well-to-do with a clean conscience.
Like its predecessor, this is a soundie — recorded music and a few sound effects including applause, laughter and even the odd bit of offscreen dialogue. It’s a strange audio world where radios can talk but human beings have to use intertitles.
Joan is at her sexiest — still vaguely terrifying but her rangy physique, carnivorous grin, mad staring eyes and unfettered bosom do exert an allure. Anita of course is full of gooey, doughy, woman-behind-the-radiator perkiness, as ever.
The party! Cedric Gibbons gets a bigger budget to make his Grauman’s theater/cathedral mash-ups bigger and better — a zoom lens, of all the cockamamie things, has been procured from somewhere, to create a weird shrinking box effect around Joan and Doug Fairbanks Jnr. Either they borrowed the Paramount lens, or MGM got the use of Joseph Walker’s experimental zoom, which I have never otherwise seen used, though it’s been written about.
And then Doug Jnr does some impressions — really good ones. Alright, John Barrymore’s Mr Hyde is a fairly standard item in the caricaturist’s repertoire of the period, and I daresay it’s easy if you happen to have the right facial muscles to do it at all, but John Gilbert is someone I’ve never seen mimicked, and it wouldn’t have occurred to me that he was colourful enough to caricature. Fairbanks nails him. And then of course he does his dad…
OUR MODERN MAIDENS was followed by OUR BLUSHING BRIDES — will definitely be checking that one out. It’s 1930 so I presume it’s a full talkie — one of Joan’s earliest. Perhaps, at last, Cedric will get to make a church look like an art deco palace rather than the other way around.