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This Modern Age

This Modern Age(1931)

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  • Early Joan Talkie Unconvincing

    • Terrance Walter
    • 6/23/10

    'This Modern Age' (1931) proved to be quite boring. The story of an assumed socialite (Pauline Frederick-'Madam X') in France gets word that her daughter Valentine, from a former marriage is coming to stay with her due to the fathers death. The daughter shows up surprisingly a few minutes later-convenient-and it turns out to be an overly tanned and overly peroxided Joan Crawford. Although her appearance is a little awkward at first she still looks gorgeous. Dressed to the nines in Adrian, 'Val' and her newly acquired mother throw a lot of parties, flirt with a lot of men, drink a lot of champagne, blah, blah, etc. Crawford's acting throughout the beginning of the film is extremely forced which was a disappointment because in her later films she handles light comedy quite well. Yet, she does get a lot better once the tears start jerking. Val finds out her mom is a kept woman so she can't marry the new football star she fell in love with (Neil Hamilton-'What Price Hollywood'). The mother tries to leave her daughter and is about to sacrifice never seeing her again when the football hero returns and swoops Val into safety from marrying a drunk and rescues mommy becoming a **** again. Hmm. Well, the relationship between the daughter and mother was almost convincing due to the accomplished acting of former silent movie star, Pauline Frederick. But other than that the writing was dull, the plot was pretty much far fetched, and I could have watched the whole thing on MUTE just to stare at Joan for 68 minutes. I was intrigued too when I read dialogue was by Irving Thalbergs sister, Sylvia. But that-unfortunately-was no saving grace. There was one great scene where Joan started in on a monologue when rumors of her mother started to circulate. It began in a 3 quarter shot and zoomed in slowly until it was nearly a close up. Those signature Crawford tears and that deep passionate voice yelling about indignities and such made that quick moment the best in the whole film.

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