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It (1927).

June 19, 2009

The Scoop:
Here she is — Clara Bow in all her glory.

Although she was already a rising star, her role as “the It girl” catapulted her career into the stratosphere. Her performance as the free-spirited store clerk looking for love in the big is still a landmark, raising the film above its purely mercenary origins. “It” was conceived a not-quite-blatant promotion for Elinor Glyn’s advice book-cum-novel of the same name, which set forth her vision of how young women should act to nab the men of their dreams (essentially an early version of “The Rules” or “Mars and Venus,” or any of the other bogus relationship help books that still pop up from time to time).

Unfortunately, Clara’s stay at the top would be short-lived. In spite of her charismatic presence, she wound up becoming one of the many victims of the film industry’s shift to sound production. She could never quite shake her strident Brooklynese accent (think Fran Drescher through a megaphone) and the clunky early sound recording equipment forced her to bottle up her energetic acting style and stand still while on camera. Her final film, “Hoop-La,” came out in 1933, just six short years after her success with “It.”

Glyn’s book may be a relic of the Roaring Twenties, but Clara and the movie still live on. Delectable.

Best Line:
“Sweet Santa Claus, give me HIM!”

Side Note:
Look out for a cameo by a pre-fame Gary Cooper as a newspaper reporter. Like so many of the young men in Clara Bow movies, he wound up as her sexual partner.

Companion Viewing:
For a couple of other great silent screen sirens, check out “Pandora’s Box” (1929) with Louise Brooks and “A Fool There Was” (1915) with Theda Bara. To compare “It” with Clara’s sound work, there’s “The Wild Party” (1929), which features a great concept and Clara’s bubbly personality both squashed by the limitations of the medium, and “Call Her Savage” (1932), her best talkie performance.

Silents Are Golden.
The Clara Bow Page.

Take a Look:
That Clara, she’s a charmer:

A trip to the carnival:

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