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Two years after "It" came out the silent picture would be a thing of the
past. Still, the most striking thing about this movie, after the always
beautiful Clara Bow, is how modern it looks. On the Kino DVD the picture
sharp and clear, with excellent contrast. It looks as good as black and
The story itself is fluff. The It of the title, which translates roughly as sex appeal, is irrelevant to the plot. Salesgirl Betty Lou Spence (Bow) falls in love with owner of big department store Cyrus Waltham, Jr. (Antonio Moreno). She chases him, he chases her, misunderstanding separates them. Even though the plot is light, it fulfills its modest goals well, largely due to Bow's energy. William Austin, as Moreno's friend Monty, is also a high point. In one key scene he also shows himself to be a far more caring and sensitive person than Cyrus, and probably a better choice for Betty's affections. Sadly, that's not how this kind of movie works.
The camera work is pretty sophisticated for the time. The scenes of Betty and Cyrus's date at the beach, with quick cuts as the two laugh, play and fall in love, are now a cliche, although one that's still used. The use of panning, different angles during scenes and plenty of close-ups keep the movie moving, without the long shots before a stationary camera that characterized many indoor scenes during the silent era. Were it not for the lack of sound and the title cards, one could easily think this movie was made as late as the start of WWII.
"It" is not an important movie in the development of cinema, either in terms of technique or theme. Instead, it's an entertaining romantic comedy, largely due to Bow's electrifying screen presence and Austin's satisfying performance. Clara Bow was a huge star, who defined the female sex symbol during the 20s. Even today it's hard to imagine anyone watching her and being able to deny that she does indeed have It.
I first saw "It" last year at a mini-festival at the Kemper Museum in Kansas
City. The audience was about equally middle-aged (50's, 60's; I'm 63) and
young (many 20's and early 30's). Everybody roared with laughter and
delight throughout the film.
This is not only a sweet, wacky comedy (with a strong ending--how I wish current filmmakers could learn that lesson!), but also a demonstration, as others have pointed out, of one of the most magnetic personalities ever to face a camera lens. Clara Bow's presence is simply heart-stopping and her basic goodness, at least in this role, is such that it makes me feel maybe there's a little hope for humankind after all.
I watched it again, with a friend, at home this evening and marveled anew at the extraordinary vitality of this wonderful young woman. The extremely silly story doesn't matter in the least. The lesson of the film, as much as there is one, is "where there's a will, there's a way," and to follow the exploits of our heroine's will is pure balm for any weary soul.
I'm completely smitten with Clara Bow. After having seen Wings, and having just watched It and the TCM documentary Clara Bow: Discovering the It Girl, I have to say that she's just about the most amazing actress of the silent era. Even besides her limitless beauty, it seems like she can accomplish anything with her face. It's far too bad that she was never given a role that fully suited her immense talent. Wings is the closest she ever came to making a great film, it would seem, but, even though she steals the movie away from the other actors, the dogfights and action sequences steal the movie from her. So then It has to stand as her testament, the film that best demonstrates her legacy. And because of this, it's not surprising that Bow is all but forgotten. I mean, It certainly isn't a bad movie. It's a moderately well done romantic comedy where the shopgirl goes after her rich boss. It's fun and entertaining, but not necessarily something you'll remember for that long afterwords. Much like any romantic comedy that would be released today, among which the best is only an average movie. But then those looking to observe Clara Bow's talent don't exactly need another movie. Bow effortlessly raises the level of the project. It would have been rather average without her, but she makes it good. Quite good, in fact. I couldn't take my eyes off her, and I know that I'll visit the film again because of her. The other actors are mostly forgettable, except for William Austin. He plays the boss's best friend, and he's pretty obviously a homosexual. It's one of the more open depictions I've seen. He's quite funny, as well, and it's no mean feat that he wins any attention whatsoever away from Ms. Bow. 8/10.
Nothing earth shattering here, no high art, just pure entertainment! A
bit like today's light romantic comedies, but a tad better in a lot of
instances! The real star here is Clara Bow who could after all really
act and wasn't just another pretty face, although she was that and
more! It's not difficult to see why she became a popular personality
with her vivacity, energy and contagious charm! The girl just exuded
fun! As Antonio Moreno said in the movie, "She has plenty in reserve!"
There are some cute lines in the movie, like when Monty says, " I feel
so low I'd have to walk on stilts under a dachshund." William Austin is
an entertaining secondary character.
The print I saw was in good shape and I enjoyed the high angle shots of the department store at the beginning of the movie with the camera panning down to the street, the amusement park scenes and the scenes on the yacht. Makes me want to see Clara in a serious drama too! Worth watching for Clara to see what It was all about! I don't think It has changed that much even in the present day!
I decided I'd watch a little bit of this film on the computer. Knowing me I usually get distracted and stop watching but this film was so very different. My first silent film, and already a favourite. I could literally not stop watching Clara Bow, she was absolutely fascinating. I'd read David Stenn's wonderful biography on her so it was great to see her finally acting. When she's on screen you block out everything else and her acting ability wonderful - she can cry at the drop of a hat! So, instead of getting distracted I watched this movie the whole way through and enjoyed every moment of it... but my favourite parts were definitely with Clara. In fact, you could say I wasn't really interested in anyone else! This movie is HER movie. It's fun, flirty and just a great movie. I recommend it for anyone who loves silent movies, Clara Bow, or flirtatious movies pushing the limit. Age wise, I think I can recommend it for about 15 onwards - I'm 14 and I really enjoyed it - but not all teenagers will appreciate the film. Which is a pity, because it's wonderful!
When it comes to IT, Clara Bow was in a league of her own. No other actress I've ever seen has even been close(maybe Jean Harlow). But most actresses since Clara didn't have silent films, which allowed her beautiful expressive eyes, facial expressions, and physical gestures (such as looking between the legs of stuffed toy dog) to do her talking and leave no doubt as to her intent. Her ability to do this made her special. I must admit that even though I loved this film, IT isn't my favorite performance by Clara. I happen to think she displayed as much and possibly more "IT" in some of her other silent movies like MANTRAP, HULA, & THE PLASTIC AGE than in IT. If you don't believe that's possible, then I highly recommend checking out some of her other films and judge for yourself. Even if you disagree, you will enjoy these performances if you enjoyed this film. As a whole, I think IT was the strongest of her silent films (in terms of plot, writing, and character development) that I've seen. Regardless, IT is the film for which Clara is most remembered and the favorite of her modern day fans. From Clara's scheming to reel in her boss as a husband to the hilarious sub-titles ("Sweet Santa, give me him", "Hot socks, the new boss", "I'll take the snap out of your garters", "He couldn't give birth to a suspicion", "On the contrary, I think she's got plenty in reserve"), I enjoyed this 1920s romantic comedy tremendously. Could Elinor Glyn, have been trying to promote her book or herself? IT was only defined 3 times during the movie (in the opening credits, in the first scene where Monty is reading about IT, and when Antonio Moreno asks Elinor Glyn herself in a scene about halfway through the film. I think if modern audiences would give IT a chance, they would be pleasantly surprised with Clara Bow. 9/10
The youthful beauty, energy and unique charm of the "it"
girl were never more evident than in this, her signature
film. The plot may be simplistic and the dialog dated, but
those are, after all, endearing qualities for most silent
film buffs. The rest of the cast [including Gary Cooper in
a brief scene] are serviceable and amusing, but everyone
else is merely window dressing for Miss Bow's star turn.
If you're not already a fan of silent films, viewing the lighthearted "IT" may introduce you to a new form of enjoyment. For ardent fans of Clara Bow, "IT" is a classic
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Inspired by Elinor Glyn's novel, which fashioned the eponymous
catchphrase for sexual magnetism, the film provides a précis of the
piece in short Cosmo excerpts that seem to conclude in no uncertain
terms: Clara Bow has "It." And the film earns that dicey claim and then
some: by sheer dint of the effervescent charisma and It-ness of its
actors, this succeeds as a suitably complicated Love Triangle (in the
screwball tradition), a sympathetic exposé of proletarian living, and a
lighthearted salute to class subversion. It is also subtler in its
physical comedy, craftier in its filmmaking, than one might expect: the
exact synchronicity between a raised eyebrow and a peculiar
inter-title, for example, can result in the film's funniest and most
poignant moments. This witty comedy of errors, misdirection, and
misunderstanding is a trifle, but it's rousing in its occasional
provocations: there is a subplot about Bow's attempt to hide her
distraught co-worker and illegitimate son in her tiny apartment that
works as an evocation of the stifling, claustrophobic social mores that
ruled the day. Then there's the director's earnest attempt to
illustrate Bow's purity in courting her wealthy boss (and would-be
benefactor) as anything but a money-move; yet we can guiltlessly cheer
her material success in the end, her untainted heart leading her to
pleasures on both sides of the fence.
While some might find this a cheap breach of the film's established ethics up to that point, one can imagine Bow's character putting her old friend up in the biggest bedroom in the mansion. This depiction might reek of star worship (and it might be damned condescending to say It depicts the "right" way of escalating the social ladder), but it reflects the irresistible sweetness of a caring, smart person trying her best to persuade others (and, by extension, those who belong to the class of struggling working girls) of her value.
this is a very fast paced and cute comedy starring the beautiful clara bow. the plot is fairly routine for it's era, but clara gives this film a real boost. she's especially appealing in a scene where she is making funny faces at her friends baby. the scenes at coney island are also fun to watch. and check out the subtitles with the 1920's slang. pretty funny stuff.
Clara Bow's energy and glamour give this otherwise lightweight feature
some life, making it quite a bit better than it had any right to be.
The rest of the production does have a couple of strengths, but not
enough to carry the load. The story is pleasant and generally
entertaining, but rather negligible. The "It" theme is overworked, and
downplaying it in favor of a little more substance might have improved
the movie. Yet it is still certainly worth seeing.
Bow gets a character that allows her to use her strengths while also giving her a chance to do some other things as well, as her character goes through a series of romantic episodes and other experiences. Perhaps one reason why this is one of her best-remembered features is that the role gives her some opportunities to show different sides of her character, as she uses her facial expressions and other resources pretty well.
The rest of the cast is just there for Bow to play off of, and the characters are mostly one-dimensional. Antonio Moreno is solid but sometimes lifeless, and his friend Monty is an annoying character whose only constructive purpose is to advance the plot at a couple of key stages.
One minor asset of the movie is the inter-titles, several of which add a bit of bite to some otherwise trite situations. But the constant references to the "It" concept, which apparently come from the Elinor Glyn source material, get old quickly. It's hardly a very imaginative or significant concept, and a couple of passing references would have been more than enough, so as to allow the story to stand more on its own.
The story itself is told rather well, and there are some enjoyable sequences, especially towards the end. While the whole thing is too superficial to belong on any best-of or must-see lists - especially in a year that produced so many outstanding and significant films - it's a generally entertaining little feature, and it is one of the best showcases for Clara Bow, who was one of the most popular performers of the 1920s.
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