"Our Dancing Daughters" (1928) is a silent gem directed by Harry Beaumont. This "Jazz Age" melodrama focuses on three flappers out for a wild time finding men. Socialite Diana Medford, played by Joan Crawford, is an honest and decent girl noted for her love of dancing and wild parties. Diana's best friend Ann, played by Anita Page, is not only a conniving little tramp who passes herself as a good girl, but also a cold hearted gold digger. Beatrice, played by Dorothy Sebastian, is largely reformed, but she is a girl with a past.
The story begins with the three girls getting themselves ready for another Saturday night on the town. At the party, Diana entertains her friends by doing an uninhibited Charleston. Subsequently, she meets Ben Blaine, played by Johnny Mack Brown, a wealthy Southern gentleman who is smitten with her. Diana becomes very much interested in Ben, but Ann is determined to get him. She draws him away from Diana by pretending to be a pure and innocent girl longing for marriage and children. Diana tries to forget Ben while Beatrice marries Norman, played by Nils Asther, who disapproves of her old friends and frequently walks out on her. The ending is very dramatic. "Our Dancing Daughters" is memorable today because it made Joan Crawford a star. Watching Joan Crawford as a flapper is amazing to see; she was bursting with youthful energy and sex appeal. Modern viewers might not know that Crawford was well known for her energetic Charlestons in the early days of her career, and to watch her dancing is to see the real thing in the pure 1920's style. The supporting cast is particularly strong. Anita Page delivers a terrific performance as the beautiful but villainous Ann. Dorothy Sebastian is very charming as Beatrice. Johnny Mack Brown and Nils Asther provide solid support as the love interests. "Our Dancing Daughters" was intellectually ahead of its time and provocative enough to make the censors fume. It is also an interesting example of early female empowerment in film. Crawford's Diana is a free soul, the type of woman Hollywood frequently featured before the Hays Code. The film is also beautiful to look at with the Art-Deco sets, huge staircases, and elegant Adrian dresses. The photography is gorgeous with ample use of medium close-ups. "Our Dancing Daughters" is the definitive "Jazz Age" film that represents the peak achievements of Hollywood designers just before the advent of sound.