Just Another Blonde is a romantic drama about two small-time gamblers and the two Coney Island girls they romance. For the film, Louise Brooks was loaned out by Paramount to First National. Of the four principals, Brooks has the smallest role, playing a supporting role as the brunette to blonde Dorothy Mackaill, the star of the film.
The film was shot in and around Luna Park, an amusement park on Coney Island in Brooklyn. During production, stories came out on the excitement generated by the making of the film. The New York Evening Post reported that the stars mingling among the crowds generated too much attention, so much so visitors threatened to demolish the dance hall were one scene was set. Director Alfred Santell was forced to wait until the park closed, and then recruited 200 extras and “kept them busy dancing for the rest of the night.”
Despite its promotion as a “dainty, dazzling, golden glorification” of a “thrill packed tale of love and romance,” Just Another Blonde fared poorly among critics. To capture local interest, the film was shown in-and-around New York City as The Girl from Coney Island. But even the local angle couldn’t spare the film from the barbs of local critics. The New York Telegram was the most blunt, “The Girl from Coney Island, the so called feature picture, is interminable and stupid.” Dorothy Herzog of the New York Daily Mirror was less cutting, “Dorothy Mackaill, as Blondie, and Louise Brooks, as Blackie, enter in celluloid during the second reel. Apparently most of them was left on the cutting-room floor to permit the sub-titler a chance to resurrect jokes so old that even Cleopatra would have been prompted to justifiable murder.”
Some criticized what they saw as a rather slight story. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle wrote, “The new film at the Strand Theater in Manhattan, The Girl From Coney Island, appears to be an excellent example of the common practice in Hollywood to stretch two-reel screen materials in to so-called feature productions. This mildly amusing picturizatlon of Gerald Beaumont’s story, ‘Even Stephen,’ would, I daresay, have made a fairly interesting short-reel movie. In its padded state of six or seven reels the drama falls considerably short of maintaining its pace beyond the very earliest sequences…. And so The Girl From Coney Island wallows along, a mawkishly sentimental narrative heavily burdened with lengthy subtitles.” Eileen Creelman of the New York American was a bit more forgiving, “Santell has taken a fifth rate plot, surrounded it with first rate atmosphere and a couple of amusing characterizations, and turned out a picture.”
What critics did appreciate was the acting, and Brooks. The Atlanta Constitution wrote “Although Miss Mackaill and Mr. Mulhall’s parts are listed as the leading roles, the acting of Louise Brooks and William Collier, Jr., as second roles, has a vital part in the picture and must be given due credit. Their acting was unusually good throughout.”
The Cincinnati Post went a little further, “Jack Mulhall is assisted in this bit by William Collier Jr., and two really good-looking girls, Dorothy Mackaill and Louise Brooks. Somebody told us Brooks was ‘Miss America’ a year or two ago. At any rate, she will knock your eye out and Mackaill will attend to the other one.” The Cedar Rapids Republican gushed, “Louise Brooks, who is said to be Clara Bow’s only rival as cinema’s most ravishing flapper, is a convincing argument in favor of modernism.“
“Jimmy O’Connor, employed in a gambling establishment, is so honest that he is offered a banking job at any time; and for his sake, Scotty, his protegé and pal, decides to go straight. The boys go fifty-fifty in everything until Scotty falls in love with Diana, who operates a shooting booth at Coney Island. Jimmy declares that he disapproves of all women–except his mother–and Scotty despairs until he schemes to have Jimmy meet Jeanne, Diana’s girl friend. It is only when they expect to be killed in an airplane crash that Jimmy tells Jeanne he loves her, but later he feigns indifference. Jeanne is heartbroken; Scotty explains that he can’t marry Diana until Jimmy is safely engaged; and with that both boys are reconciled to their respective sweethearts.”
The First National Studio was located in Manhattan. Production began under the title The Charleston Kid. Filming took place throughout August of 1926, with location shooting done at Luna Park in Coney Island, in Scarsdale’s Edgemont district, and at an undetermined airfield in the New York area.
Under its American title, Just Another Blonde, documented screenings of the film took place in Australia, Canada, China, India, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, South Africa and the British Isles (England, and the Isle of Man). When shown in and around New York City, Just Another Blonde was promoted under the title The Girl from Coney Island. The film was also shown under the title The Charleston Kid in Argentina, Cuba, and Czechoslovakia. Elsewhere, this motion picture was known to have been shown under other-language titles including Entre a Loura e a Morena (Brazil); Pouze jiný svetlovlasý (Czechoslovakia); Den blonde fare (Denmark); Die Braut am Scheidewege (Germany); Caixeiro Viajante (Portugal); Una de Tantas (Spain); and Den blonda faran (Sweden).
An incomplete print of the film has been preserved at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. What remains are parts of 5 of 6 reels (specifically reels 1-4, 6); each are incomplete, with “all reels missing footage, some severely.” Some 5000 ft. of the film are now preserved as a b&w 35 mm. safety preservation dupe negative. Some of the footage has a “light amber tint.” In 1996, some of this surviving film, which includes footage with Louise Brooks, was shown at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. [Another copy may exist. I was told in 2016 by an unimpeachable source that a print of the film was screened in London by a private collector in the early 1960s. This private collector has since died, and it is not known what became of his print. The person who saw the film in the early 1960s admitted “it isn’t very good.”]
RELATED ARTICLES & REVIEWS:
“Movie Artists Pose at Edgemont Pond to Film ‘Charleston Kid’,” anonymous (Scarsdale Inquirer, September 3, 1926).
“Two Gentlemen Prefer ‘Just Another Blonde‘,” by Roberta Nangle (Chicago Tribune, December 28, 1926).