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Above: ""Montana Moon" was a bit of fluff that was supposed to help
Johnny Mack Brown, but I think it hurt him instead." - Joan Crawford

"Montana Moon" 1930

Cast: Joan Crawford (as Joan "Montana" Prescott), Johnny Mack Brown, Dorothy Sebastian,
Ricardo Cortez, Benny Rubin, Cliff Edwards, Karl Dane, Lloyd Ingraham.

Release date - March 20, 1930

Running time - 71 minutes (10 reels)

Directed by - Malcolm St Clair

Writing Credits - Frank Butler and Sylvia Thalberg (story), Joseph Farnham (dialogue)

Producer - Malcolm St. Clair

Cinematographer - William H. Daniels

Costumes - Adrian

Studio - MGM


Movie Synopsis

Somehow doing a musical in the shaky infancy days of sound films, doesn't seem like such a great idea. Such was the format with 'Montana Moon', and a great idea, it was not! Joan Prescott (Joan) is a wealthy young daughter of a Montana rancher. Whilst on a train from New York City back to her home in Montana, she decides to sneak off the train before her final stop, making a decision to turn around and go back to The Big Apple. Before she can get back on another train, she runs into handsome cowboy, Larry Kerrigan (Johnny Mack Brown). In a typically accelerated movie romance, they fall in love and marry.

However, the lovers don't get off to a very steady start when the flirtatious Joan (Joan) does a seductive dance with Jeff Pelham (Ricardo Cortez) on of all nights, her wedding night! After ending their dance with a lingering kiss, new husband, Larry (Johnny Mack Brown) steps in and slugs the wannabe wife stealer.

Joan (Joan) leaves both men to fight over her and angrily takes the train to New York. However, she's abducted by a gang of train robbers en route, only to find out that the leader of the gang is her husband, Larry (Johnny Mack Brown). The lovers reunite and everyone lives happily ever after.


Interesting Trivia

Although the film was a musical, in a strange marketing move, MGM also released a silent version of the same film. Joan sprained her ankle during rehearsals and was forced to rest it before filming could begin. The story and screenplay were co-written by Irving Thalberg's sister, Sylvia Thalberg.

Cost: $277K/Domestic Studio Gross: $751K/Foreign Studio Gross: $209K/ Profit: $326K

Box Office Receipts: $960,000.

Inflation Value in 2007: $11,953,954.49


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Reviewer, writerdonna7, says...

"Montana Moon" is redeemed from being merely a creaky, Godawful, early sound film by the bright and charming presence of a very young Joan Crawford who is truly at her cutest and most endearing here. Also fascinating are some historical prototypes found within its structure. It is part MGM musical, the first "singing cowboys" western, and part early "beach party" film with Crawford at the center of a youthful cast of harmless, misunderstood "kids" just wanting to dance and cut loose -- the Annette of the jazz age. The plot, ridiculous as it is, concerns a vivacious flapper named Joan "Montana" Prescott (Crawford) who is taking a train with her father, sister Lizzie (Dorothy Sebastian) and party-happy friends to the family ranch in Montana. Embarrassed by the fact that Jeff Pelham (Ricardo Cortez), Lizzie's boyfriend, keeps coming on to her, she packs her suitcase and gets off at a stop before the family's intended destination. There she flirts with a ticket seller and crosses the railroad tracks (Joan's on the right side of the tracks, this time) where she encounters an aw-shucks cowboy, Larry Kerrigan (Johnny Mack Brown) and spends the night at his fireside campsite. He understandably falls for the sweetly seductive (though presumably chaste!) lass, so that in the very next scene of singing cowboys, the couple has married! Crawford sings a few solos, including "The Moon is Low" and "Let Me Give You Love" (with a chorus of cowboys) and sounds quite good. After a "honeymoon" night under the stars in sleeping bags beneath the prying eyes of Larry's eclectic cowboy friends, the couple go to Joan's family ranch. Larry meets the approval of his new father-in-law but fails to fit in with "the kids." The young couple seem ill matched and have a squabble. Will they ride off into the sunset together?

The many delights here are all due to spirited Crawford. Unfortunately, there are a few cogs in the wheels, not the least of which is Johnny Mack Brown with his dreadful, slow-witted acting and accent and the very non-humorous and incongruous shtick of two Yiddish vaudevillians (Cliff Edwards and Benny Rubin) who belong in the West as much as Brown does -- i.e., not at all. But Crawford is so alive, she smooths over the dead wood floating around her. From the minute she arrives on the scene, she is bursting with energy and charm. It's great fun to hear her squeal, "Oh, sure!" like the atypical chorine, wide-eyed and fetching in her cloche hat. Full of sweet smiles, she fusses over new husband (so dreadfully wrong for her and doomed not to make it in sound pictures either apparently) and meets his sullenness with humor and beguile, my favorite moment being when she says to him, "Come out from behind that veil, Reginald Pemberton!" Whether looking soulfully at her cowboy husband and making us believe she is charmed by him or dancing a tango and batting her eyes at other understandably besotted men, Crawford is nothing less than magical - a bright light in a lot of bunk. And for her and her alone, the film has some redeeming value.

Two and a half stars out of four

Other Reviews

Mordaunt Hall of the "New York Times" had this to say, "An interminable, amateurish talking picture with spasmodic snatches of melody, is now sojourning at the Capitol...Taking it all in all, the most pleasing features in this production are Miss Crawford's camel's hair coat and her jodhpur riding, outfit...Miss Crawford appears to enjoy her role and sometimes her acting is quite fair."

If you have seen this movie, please write a review below. Once your review is submitted, I will post the review below. Thank you for your review on this film.

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