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The Taxi Dancer
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Silent. 64 minutes (7 reels).
US release: 2/5/27.
Cast: Joan Crawford (as "Joselyn Poe"), Owen Moore, Douglas Gilmore, Marc McDermott, William Orlamond, Gertrude Astor, Rockliffe Fellowes, Claire McDowell, Bert Roach.
Credits: From the story by Robert Terry Shannon. Adaptation: A.P. Younger. Titles: Ralph Spence. Director: Harry Millarde. Camera: Ira H. Morgan. Editor: George Hively. Costumes: Andre-ani. Sets: Cedric Gibbons, David Townshend.
Plot Summary: Impoverished Southern belle Joslyn Poe (Joan Crawford) heads to New York, hoping to become a professional dancer. Unable to land work on Broadway, she becomes a taxi dancer in a cheap dive, where her cardsharp boyfriend Lee Rogers (Owen Moore) whiles away his time fleecing the suckers. Hoping to escape her tawdry surroundings, Joslyn latches on to supposed gentleman James Kelvin (Douglas Gilmore). But when Kelvin turns out to be a thief and a murderer, Joslyn returns to the arms of Rogers, who isn't such a bad guy after all. Publicity stills from The Taxi Dancer show Joan Crawford dancing atop a taxicab -- but alas, no such scene appears in the film. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
Musical accompaniment when the film opened at NYC's Capitol theater: Overture, Tchaikovsky's "Fourth Symphony;" "Ambling Along," a scenic; "Fantasie Comique," with Joyce Coles, John Triesault, Ruth Alpert and Roland Guerard; "An African Adventure," a Ufa film.
James R. Quirk in Photoplay (1927):
Joan Crawford...rides high over the inferior material. Here is a girl of singular beauty and promise. And she certainly has IT. Just now she is very much in need of good direction.
"Sid" in Variety (1927):
Just another Southern girl come north to be pursued by men, but not unentertainingly....Miss Crawford could be termed as an in and outer in this picture. Every so often comes a flash of power that may indicate this girl has something, while at other times she's too coy and clinging... [O]ne of those pictures that will do well in one town and flop in another. The flaps and their undergraduate or counter monarchs will remain interested, while older men won't find it hard to gaze on Miss Crawford and her array of nightgowns.
Mordaunt Hall in the New York Times (March 8, 1927):
The Dancing Girl.
If a story were written as it is invariably filmed it is highly probable that readers would get fewer and fewer. The yarn of "The Taxi Dancer" is one of those that seems to have lost its origin in being transferred to the screen. There isn't a vestige of a character among all the persons that flash on and off as the scenes are unfurled. Yet there is a sort of lazy individual's diversion about this production. You don't have to concentrate, and as things pass on you observe that a man is killed and you are not in the least thrilled or sorry for him. Then another man ends his life by jumping out of a window. And you may say to yourself "That's that! The heroine is still alive, and so is that uncouth individual who is in love with her."
This picture was directed by Harry Millarde, producer of "Over the Hill." He distinguished himself by his work in that old Fox feature, but in this new film his situations are artificial and his characters are mere images based on movie life as it is reflected in its shadows.
The taxi dancer is not a person who dances on top of a taxicab nor one who hops in and out of one of those vehicles, but a girl who is a professional dancer, one who goes through the motions of a tango, waltz or Charleston for a dime, half of which is contributed to the establishment that furnishes her with the floor and a sort of uniform. This particular taxi dancer is attractive, with the result that she finds herself surrounded by admirers. These include a popular male exhibition dancer, a millionaire and a gentleman who makes a living by his wits—or, rather, through the witlessness of others.
There are some scenes in a rooming house, with contrasting types of tenants. Lee Rogers (Owen Moore) spends his mornings singing, "You made me what I am, &c," and his husky tones are annoying to Joslyn Poe, the heroine of this lumbering yarn.
Some of Ralph Spence's subtitles are amusing. One of the lesser taxi dancers is quoted as saying that she feels like a transport after dancing with so many sailors. Another sets forth that a man is so homely that he ought to have sued his parents.
So far as the actual acting goes it is neither very good nor very bad. Joan Crawford could evidently do better under more inspiring direction or in a well-knit story. She is appealing and endeavors to submerge her own personality in her part so far as it is possible. Mr. Moore, as Lee Rogers, is a trifle too rough even to be alluded to as a rough diamond, which is not exactly his fault. Gertrude Astor does very well with her part, but Mr. Spence makes her utter more slang than any one girl could possibly know. Rockliffe Fellowes, who is usually able to take care of himself before the camera, does not get much of a chance in this production, as he is forced to die too soon.
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Left: US movie poster (27 by 40 inches). Center: US (size unknown). Right: Swedish one-sheet.
Above: Two flyers at left, and a program cover at right.
Below: Window cards, and a lantern slide.
Below: A Capitol Theatre (New York City) program.
Below: Houston newspaper ad, and NYC newspaper ad.
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