SPOTLIGHT: Juicy Pre-Code Crawford (III)

Welcome to a new Film Friday and the continuation of our final series of posts on Film Friday! We’re returning to one of our earliest spotlighted stars, Joan Crawford (1904-1977), and featuring some of the remaining Pre-Codes we’ve yet to cover. Elsewhere on this blog, we’ve covered Dance, Fools, Dance (1931), Possessed (1931), Grand Hotel (1932), Letty Lynton (1932), Dancing Lady (1933), Sadie McKee (1934). So far in this new series we’ve highlighted Paid (1930) and Laughing Sinners (1931). Today . . .

 

This Modern Age (1931)

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A child of divorce raises eyebrows when she goes to Paris to live with her estranged mother. Starring Joan Crawford, Pauline Frederick, Neil Hamilton, and Monroe Owsley. Written by Frank Butler and Sylvia Thalberg. Story by Mildred Cram. Additional dialogue by John Meehan. Directed by Nicholas Grandé.

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Crawford, meanwhile, is doing her best to have fun. She’s a good time modern lady in this one, not the cold working girl of some of her Pre-Code classics (like Grand Hotel and Possessed). She’s the Depression era version of the ’20s flapper, and that, by the nature of its existence, is an interesting character for modern audiences. Once again, credit must be given to Crawford’s wise decision to reject any potential for melodrama, and while we can see her performances getting more and more workmanlike and refined (that is, less raw and rough around the edges), there’s an easiness about her activity in this film that may surprise viewers who remember her most from her Post-Code roles. And because the film, for all its really deplorable flaws, remains a great showcase for Crawford (by virtue of the fact that she’s at the crux of the story), this picture is recommended (mildly) to her fans.

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