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Images Of Alcohol In American Film: 1909-1960 Presented In Cooperation With The Alcohol Research Group

Tuesday, February 2, 1982
7:30 p.m. Our Dancing Daughters plus Chaplin's The Cure
Harry Beaumont (USA,1928)

Our Dancing Daughters
The film which provided Joan Crawford her first starring role and launched her career, Our Dancing Daughters is one of the best of the “Jazz Age” films. “Certainly it was the lushest of the lot.... It had Joan Crawford dancing the Charleston, Anita Page drinking herself to death, and ex-football star John Mack Brown as the romantic bone of contention. Nils Asther turned in a good performance too.... I can remember Joan’s Charleston - more than one in fact - champagne glasses flowing, wild, frenzied parties in huge mansions the like of which probably never existed outside of MGM’s stages, scores of balloons floating heavenwards, and endless short skirts swaying in fast-paced rhythm to the jazz bands.” --Joe Franklin.
“Our Dancing Daughters epitomized the trappings that have since enshrined the 1920s as the renaissance period of American night life.... The film portrays the glamour and tinsel associated with the world of drink. At the same time it presents a shocking look at female intoxication which portends the disgust that often came to be associated with women drinkers on the screen. Anita Page is presented as a selfish woman of loose morals who falls to her death in a drunken spree. The curiously ambiguous message about drinking in the film reveals a similar ambiguity with respect to shifting women’s roles in this era. Despite the overt facade of sexual and moral emancipation - bobbed hair, short skirts and occasional champagne - women were expected to maintain traditional standards of morality and fidelity. Going outside these conventional norms by engaging in adulterous and drunken behavior was considered an unpardonable sin.” --Denise Herd

• Directed by Harry Beaumont. Produced by MGM. Written by Josephine Lovett. Photographed by George Barnes. With Joan Crawford, Johnny Mack Brown, Anita Page, Nils Asther. (1928, 86 mins, silent, Print from Films Inc.)

The Cure
Charlie plays an inebriate who has just arrived at a sanitarium to take a water cure. Having brought along his own supply of alcohol, however, he winds up liberating guests and attendants alike when his stash is poured into the curative waters. The Cure has been called Chaplin’s “Ode to Joy” - a cheerful salute to uninhibited revelry. Charlie also enjoys a saucy flirtation with Edna Purviance.
• Directed by Charlie Chaplin. Produced by Mutual. With Chaplin, Edna Purviance. (1917, 20 mins, silent with musical track, Print from PFA Collection)