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Why Be Good? (1929)

A flapper with a dubious reputation enjoys a vivacious night of dancing and finds herself romantically linked to her boss.


William A. Seiter


Paul Perez (titles), Carey Wilson (screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview:
Colleen Moore ... Pert Kelly
Neil Hamilton ... Winthrop Peabody Jr.
Bodil Rosing ... Ma Kelly
John St. Polis ... Pa Kelly (as John Sainpolis)
Edward Martindel ... Winthrop Peabody Sr.
Eddie Clayton Eddie Clayton ... Tom
Lincoln Stedman ... Jerry
Louis Natheaux ... Jimmy Alexander
Collette Merton Collette Merton ... Julie
Dixie Gay Dixie Gay ... Susie
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A young shop girl is dance mad, even winning prize cups in competitions. Circulating with lots of people gives her a dubious reputation, but we see it's unwarranted. The son of the owner of the department store she works in falls for her without realizing her status. at length, he puts her to a test to see just what kind of girl she is. Written by WesternOne

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A whoopee picture about the wild younger set. The real low down on flaming youth-right from the shoulder, right to your heart. You are the loser if you don't see "Why Be Good." (print ad- Anniston (Ala.) Star, 24 March 1929) See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance



Did You Know?


The film was lost for decades until it was found in the late 1990s. The sole known 35mm nitrate print was discovered in an Italian archive. The print had been donated by actor Antonio Moreno who starred in Colleen Moore's Synthetic Sin (1929). See more »


When Peabody, Sr. enters the Store Manager's office he calls him Ralph. But the name on the Manager's door is H.B. Lewis. See more »


Pa Kelly: My own daughter accepting clothes from a man like a common strumpet.
See more »


I'm Thirsty for Kisses - Hungry for Love
Music by J. Fred Coots
Lyrics by Lou Davis
Sung during the opening credits, beginning scenes and at the end by Eddie Willis, Carlton Boxeil, Stanley McClelland and Fred Wilson
Played often throughout the picture as Pert and Junior's theme
See more »

User Reviews

Silent Sounds Spectacular
13 October 2015 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

On the 50th floor of a modern skyscraper in New York City, handsome young millionaire Neil Hamilton (as Winthrop Peabody Jr.) has a wild party to celebrate a new job managing his father's department store. In a poorer section of town, perky flapper Colleen Moore (as Pert Kelly) dances at fast-motion to "Sweet Georgia Brown" in a Charleston contest. A clear winner, Ms. Moore is also one of the thousand "cuties" employed as a clerk at Peabody's department store. Later, she hooks up with Mr. Hamilton at a hot roadhouse called "The Boiler". Moore angers her parents by arriving home late, but she really lives a virtuous life. However, Moore is late for work and ordered to see the new store manager...

Moore's last silent is very nicely produced, for its star, by John McCormick. Director William A. Seiter and his crew present Moore in a flattering light, and give us a tasteful peak at her underwear in a couple of scenes. Trying to make time with Moore before she meets Hamilton, amorously greasy Louis Natheaux (as Jimmy Alexander) is a stand-out. Carey Wilson's story was a standard for the time. A pretty clerk getting attention from an (ideally, department store) millionaire was a common fantasy. The plot was well-worn, and doesn't fit the "flapper" girl. Mary Pickford and Clara Bow had released finer films on the topic. Moore's best rags-to-riches story is, appropriately, "Ella Cinders" (1926)...

This was Moore's final "silent" film. She transitioned to the "talkies" as well-spoken, but without distinction. Moore was likely hurt by being so closely associated with a bygone era. She was #1 in the industry's "Quigley Poll" of box-office stars for 1926. "Why Be Good" finds its star acting almost purely with the exaggerated silent mannerisms associated with silents. In the past, Moore demonstrated some of the subtly and style which would prove useful in all-talking pictures; but, here, she makes her preference known. The recently re-discovered print of "Why Be Good?" is spectacular, and it survives with its beautifully rendered "Synchronized Musical Score and Sound Effects" track. Let's see more...

****** Why Be Good? (1929-02-28) William A. Seiter ~ Colleen Moore, Neil Hamilton, Louis Natheaux, Bodil Rosing

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Release Date:

23 May 1929 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

That's a Bad Girl See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone) (Western Electric Equipment) (musical score and sound effects)| Silent (alternate version)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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