Our Blushing Brides
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MGM concluded its trilogy of "jazz age" romances by moving the jazz babies of the silent hits Our Dancing Daughters (1928) and Our Modern Maidens (1929) into the working world and the talking picture era for the 1930 film, Our Blushing Brides. In the process, they helped Joan Crawford and Robert Montgomery up the ladder to stardom and helped bring a new genre, the "women's picture", into prominence.
Crawford had begun her rise to stardom dancing a spirited Charleston in the first film of the trilogy. MGM followed with a second film in the same mold, though with different characters, and scored a publicity bonanza when Crawford and on-screen fiance Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. got married in real life. The films' basic plots, about three friends searching for romance with varying degrees of luck, were nothing new. Crawford had already starred in a similar story, Sally, Irene and Mary, in 1925. But the third feature, Our Blushing Brides, bowed to changing times by transforming the smart young things of the title into working girls fighting to survive the Great Depression as salesgirls and models at a glamorous department store. The characters' conflicts over whether to find security through hard work or easy virtue would become a Hollywood staple in what came to be called "women's pictures," as the studios delighted Depression audiences with similar tales of the struggle to survive the workplace with one's honor intact. In particular, Crawford would follow Our Blushing Brides with a string of rags-to-riches sagas in which she would force her rich suitors to come across with a marriage offer before letting them get close to first base.
Crawford and co-star Anita Page were the only constants in the three films. The other leading lady, Dorothy Sebastian, had taken a break from the second film, while the original picture had made director Harry Beaumont such a hit with the studio brass they had entrusted him with the first great MGM musical, The Broadway Melody (1929), which kept him too busy for Our Modern Maidens.
New to the mix were story and dialogue writer Bess Meredyth, a Hollywood veteran who had co-founded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ®, and leading man Robert Montgomery. The latter was a natural for the role of heir to the leading ladies' boss. Montgomery had been raised in comfort as the son of a rubber company president and had only turned to acting after his father's death left the family virtually penniless. After stage work, he had migrated to Hollywood with other theatre talent recruited for the infant medium of talking pictures. He even had been on hand for Crawford's adjustment to the new medium in her first starring sound film, Untamed (1929). They would go on to make three more films together, including one of her most popular early '30s films, Letty Lynton (1932).
Beaumont -- a veteran of silent films who had reached his peak with such '20s blockbusters as The Gold Diggers (1923) and John Barrymore's Beau Brummel (1924) -- would continue his association with Crawford as well, with back-to-back films a year later, Dance, Fools, Dance and Laughing Sinners (both 1931). He would continue as one of MGM's most reliable directors, though over time his projects began moving into the B-film realm, where he would finish his career with a trio of Maisie films in the '40s.
Ultimately, it was Crawford who came out of Our Blushing Brides the biggest winner, just as her character was the only of the three friends to make it to wedded bliss. Even as the film was helping to popularize a new Hollywood genre, reviewers were quick to point out the creakiness of some of the picture's plot developments, including one girl discovering her new husband is really a crook and another driven to suicide by her affair with a wealthy but heartless playboy. Nonetheless, Crawford, in the critics' and fans' eyes, was box-office gold. The New York Times praised her "humorous and intelligent acting," while Photoplay got right to the point about her box-office appeal: "You must see Joan Crawford in those lace step-ins! Swell box office picture!"
Producer-Director: Harry Beaumont
Screenplay: Bess Meredyth, John Howard Lawson, Edwin Justus Mayer
Based on a story by Meredyth
Cinematography: Merritt B. Gerstad
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Music: Dimitri Tiomkin
Cast: Joan Crawford (Gerry Marsh), Anita Page (Connie), Dorothy Sebastian (Franky), Robert Montgomery (Tony Jardine), Raymond Hackett (David Jardine), John Miljan (Martin W. Sanderson), Hedda Hopper (Mrs. Weaver), Edward Brophy (Joe Munsey), Louise Beavers (Amelia the Maid), Ann Dvorak (Model).
by Frank Miller