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West Point. The pride of America, the home of glorious tradition - unless you're a hotshot plebe named Brice Wayne. Then it's just a backdrop to personal glory. William Haines stars as Brice and Joan Crawford plays the girl he loves in a comedy-drama about a brash young gridiron hero who puts himself above the corps, learns a bitter lesson in team spirit and charges into the Army-Navy game for a chance to redeem himself. That on-screen spark between Haines and Crawford was reflected in off-screen camaraderie. The two, who
would be named male and female box-office champs in 1930, became devoted lifelong friends.
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The second reason I said the film has a very promising start is because it APPEARS at first that Joan Crawford is going to be the leading lady much like she was in "Spring Fever" the year before (also with William Haines). Instead, she turns out to be the 'leading lady' in name only because her character VIRTUALLY DISAPPPEARS after the first few scenes - only returning sporadically for extremely brief periods of time. She is given a fantastic introduction as the kind of VERY STRONG FEMALE LEAD that will have almost equal screen time with Haines, with an emotional journey/arc and solid character development of her own, as in 'Spring Fever' - but her character development over the course of the story is *NIL*, and her SOLE PURPOSE turns out to be standing around as a (sometimes reluctant but nevertheless smitten) cheerleader for Haines. I was shocked and appalled that she would be treated like this at THIS stage of her career - you would think it were still 1925 when she first arrived in Hollywood and hadn't proved her abilities yet.
It is by far *THE MOST THANKLESS ROLE* that Joan Crawford ever played in her life!! Serioisly. Even her first bit part as Norma Shearer's double in 'Lady of the Night' had more meat in it!!!!!! She was just thrown into THIS film as though it were some kind of token cameo role (and one that turns out to be UTTERLY DEGRADING TO WOMEN at that, as I demonstrated above!!)
William Blakewell does NOT play Joan's other love interest, contrary to what another reviewer said. He plays William Haines' cohort/companion/room-mate, and his performance is oftentimes overly exaggerated - almost coming across as the stereotypical silent film actor who "telegraphs" and goes overboard in the process - but that applies just as much to William Haines himself, of course, in this film. I guess the director was simply not one of MGM's finest. Blakewell does manage to be effective in the hospital room scenes - and indeed the film has its moments of genuine human emotion and psychological resonance, but they seem to be too few and far between.
I like what the writers seem to have been going for at CERTAIN TIMES - for instance, telling a story about MALE COMPANIONSHIP rather than a typical male/female romance (in fact, at one point William Haines' character refers to Blakewell's character as his "boy-friend", even though we are not supposed to infer anything sexual from that) - but I just don't think the acting (by the male leads), the direction, and ultimately the writing itself HIT THE MARK!!
The movie itself looks on DVD great for a old movie from 1927. Almost no defects for a "not" restored/remastered movie.
Also the background score is very nice to listen.
William Haines plays wonderful. The theme itself is serious but contains any funny scenes. Also William Bakewell as other love interest of Joan Crawford is wonderful.
Trivia: William Bakewell was later also in Gone With the Wind in a small role.
Once speaking about this movie Joan described "West Point" as "a throwaway for me." I don't think that was the case at all because it was a great role for her and there was a lot of chemistry between her and Billy Haines (he was like her Clark Gable of the '20s). I also enjoyed many of Joan's dresses and outfits because as usual she always looked stunning. But I think this is really one of the first films that the studio was told to make her into "Joan Crawford."
"West Point" was filmed on location. And, there are a lot of military scenes (which is backed by that drumming sound) but "West Point" is certainly not a war-era movie. It's actually more about sports than anything else because Brice (William Haines) was expelled from the school's team for not showing "enough spirit." They must have really been strict in the '20s.
This is a DVD-R which is made by Warner Archives/Warner Bros. The DVD-R's are made to order and include a silkscreen picture on the discs, and a brief description of the movie on the back of the packaging, however the cases are not sealed. If you find these prices rather high you may want to wait for the film to be shown on TCM (it's shown at least once or twice a year).
Remember, you are what you watch.