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""Untamed" was silly but fun - Bob Montgomery was terrific,
I was awful, mostly becasue I was miscast." - Joan Crawford

"Untamed" 1929

Cast: Joan Crawford ( as Alice 'Bingo' Dowling), Robert Montgomery, Ernest Torrence,
Holmes Herbert, John Miljan, Gwen Lee, Edward J. Nugent, Don Terry,
Milton J. Fahrney, Lloyd Ingraham, Grace Cunard, Tom O'Brien

Release date - November 23, 1929

Running time - 86 minutes (9 reels)

Director - Jack Conway

Writing Credits - Charles E. Scoggins (story), Sylvia Thalberg, Frank Butler,
Lucille Newmark (titles), Willard Mack (dialogue)

Producer - Unknown

Cinematographer - Oliver T. Marsh

Costumes - Adrian

Studio - MGM


Movie Synopsis

When Bingo's (Joan) father is killed, she inherits his oil company , however because she was raised in rural South America, her guardians, Ben (Ernest Torrence) and Howard (Holmes Herbert) decide to send the unsophisticated Bingo (Joan) to New York to gain some culture.

On the way, she meets Andy (Robert Montgomery), a perfect man, only a poor man. After telling Bingo (Joan) that he simply can't live off the cream of a woman's fortune, he takes up with the equally poor, Marjory (Gwen Lee). Not willing to let her man go so easily, Bingo (Joan) ends up shooting Andy (Robert Montgomery) in the arm. This bizarre act of love (according to the story) now allows them to marry. Despite the reason for Bingo (Joan) shooting Andy (Robert Montgomery) not being explained., they do live happily ever after.


Interesting Trivia

A milestone in Joan's career. "Untamed" was her first "talkie." She never doubted her ability to talk on film, she would tirelessly take diction and elocution lessons to rid herself of her natural Southwestern accent. She even bought a Dictaphone and read verse into it as her first husband, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. supervised. Her determination to succeed in the new medium ensured that she was one of the few silent stars who made the transition from silent to sound with ease. [www.wikipedia.com].

Working title "Jungle."

It was the first leading man role for Robert Montgomery, who never worked in silents.

In the opening scene, Joan dances as she sings the theme song, "Chant of the Jungle," written by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed, which became a hit in 1929. She and Montgomery sing the Louis Alter and Arthur Freed tune "That Wonderful Something Is Love."

Co-writer, Sylvia Thalberg was sister to MGM producer, Irving Thalberg.

Cost: $229K/Domestic Studio Gross: $714K/Foreign Studio Gross: $260K/Profit: $508K

Box Office Receipts: $974,000.

Inflation Value in 2007: $11,844,580.47


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Reviewer, writerdonna7, says...

"Untamed" is Joan Crawford's first sound film and presents a creaky bridge between silents and talkies, although our "dancing daughter" is, as always, vivacious and natural even when speaking with a refined accent. It's not a great film, but its rawness and that of its largely youthful cast is part of its abundant charm. There are occasional issues with sound, such as when the background music almost drowns out the dialogue, and title cards are used, if sparingly. The plot concerns a wild child named Alice "Bingo" Dowling who lives in the jungles of South America with her prospecting father (Lloyd Ingraham). The film opens with a deeply-tanned Crawford in a sexy, little dress and bare legs doing her standard hoochie-koochie dance (lots of legs, limbs and flapping) for the natives and singing "Chant of the Jungle." When her daddy is on his death bed, felled by a bad heart and a bad man with designs on Bingo, he makes his two friends, Ben Murchison (Ernest Torrence) and Howard Presley (Holmes Herbert) promise to look after his little girl (in a hilariously protracted death scene) and reveals the whereabouts of a deed that essentially makes Bingo an oil heiress. Shortly, "Uncle Ben," as Bingo refers to him, is taking his ward via ship to New York and finding her a handful, but "worth it." As Murchison remarks when looking on the prettily sleeping Bingo, "Sometimes the sweetest flowers grow in the mud."

On board, Bingo literally stumbles into handsome Andy McAllister ( a young Robert Montgomery) and quickly falls for him, expressing her interest quite openly, "untamed" girl that she is. He is equally taken and amused by her. Her rough edges are still in evidence as she tries to punch those she dislikes in the nose, runs around barefoot, and keeps a mischievous monkey in her cabin. But she is firm about her love for Andy, even though Uncle Ben is against the union because they are both "children" and Andy has no money to compete with Bingo's millions. Andy does not want to live off Bingo's money, however, and takes up with Marge (Gwen Lee). In the second half, Bingo, now in New York, has quickly transformed into a beautifully-garbed young sophisticate, complete with polished drawing room accent, and a whole coterie of young friends (the ubiquitous kids who appear in many of Crawford's early films) and still has eyes only for Andy (and what eyes!). Andy secretly still loves Bingo as well and during the party proves it with a fight (revealing Montgomery's underdeveloped physique). He comes to his senses, at least, when Bingo takes a revolver to him! (Hey, it's Joan!) Love prevails!

Oh, it's all nonsense and as awkward as adolescence and that's half the fun. Crawford is at the height of her youthful beauty, still very much a girl and fascinating to watch. She is winsome and doe-eyed and appealing. Her face has a doll-like prettiness and sensuality, and her buoyant girlishness has not yet evolved into haughty elegance. Even in the sophisticated Adrian gowns of chiffon and silk, she is all eyes, spirit and spunky cuteness. Even more surprising is Montgomery. Rather than being stiff as he often is, here he is refreshingly lively, almost as vivacious as his co-star, and full of fun. It's a dopey plot, but who cares? It's still adorable, and Crawford lights the screen.

Three and a half out of four

Other Reviews

Pierre de Rohan of the "New York Morning Telegraph" (1929) had this to say, "Miss Crawford seems more than a little ill-at-ease in the trappings of a jungle hoyden and only slightly more comfortable in the equally alien antics of a Manhattan debutante. She never, therefore, makes her role seem real and I doubt whether any other actress could."

"The Brooklyn Eagle" (1929) said, "If "Untamed" does little else for Miss Crawford, it proves that she is an actress for whom the microphone should hold no fear. Her diction is clear and unaffected, and while there is nothing in the lines that offers her opportunity for exceptional acting, she manages to make the impulsive heroine of the story somewhat more credible than the part deserves."

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