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28 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Modern Fluff

Author: jondaris from Baltimore, MD
14 October 2001

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 is sharp and clear, with excellent contrast. It looks as good as black and white can.

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.

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26 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

A decent romantic comedy made wonderful by the presence of Clara Bow

Author: zetes from Saint Paul, MN
9 August 2003

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.

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24 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Whatever "It" is, she's sure got it...

Author: jonr-3 from Kansas City, Missouri, USA
10 June 2003

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.

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19 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Clara Has" It " In Spades!

Author: sunlily from Dallas, TX.
27 November 2005

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!

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16 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

It's one of the best

Author: Incalculacable ( from Perth, WA
5 February 2006

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!

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17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Clara's got IT

Author: (stwhite) from Indiana, USA
22 January 2004

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

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Clara's Shining Moment

Author: anonymous
8 July 1999

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

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

The Material Girl?

Author: ALauff from Chicago
27 August 2004

*** 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.

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

clara has definitely got "it"

Author: amantsdupontneuf
22 February 2002

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.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

One of the hidden influences on American culture.

Author: Mmmavis from Portland, OR
12 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Before It, Clara Bow was A Hollywood actress. After It, Clara was THE Hollywood actress. The film catapulted her into super stardom, and it's easy to understand why. The film itself is just Hollywood popcorn fare for it's time---but Clara is an absolute sensation.

This film was like so many other Bow films---it was a vehicle specifically to show her off. Clara is unfortunately not remembered by many today, but she was the prototype for women like Harlow, Monroe, and Madonna. In other words, Clara was the very first mass-marketed sex symbol. She was one of the first 'personality' stars, incredibly popular with the average movie-going public because of her vibrant, bubbly, magnetic and photogenic screen persona. Most of her films were rather cheap, shoddily-made affairs put together solely to show her off and make as much money as cheaply as possible. The difference with this one is that it had a competent director, competent script, and competent actors to surround her with. Even so, she still out-shines everything else around her.

The dynamics between the characters in the film are confusing to us now, but were quite obvious and simplistic for the time. A lot of people today see Monty as gay. He wasn't written that way; he was a common stock character of silent comedies, the silly young man. He's interested in Clara, but willingly helps her snag his friend instead, because that's what friends are for. He's there for comic effect and to contrast with the male lead, Cyrus, who to us seems rather stodgy and dull, but needed to be this way in order to be above reproach: the man worthy of Clara's heart had to be a perfect specimen of propriety. Otherwise, he didn't deserve her. Clara's character today can come across as somewhat scheming and manipulative, but to the 1920's audience, she was a refreshing change from the movie heroines that preceded her; no shrinking violet or sexless schoolgirl, but a girl who would go after what she wanted, and get it.

The film is actually a pretty routine Cinderella story, except for one thing: instead of being pursued, Clara becomes the pursuer, chasing her boss and ensnaring him with her 'It'. The movies made during the roaring 20's helped free Western culture from the restrictive Victorian morals of the late 19th Century. For the first time, it was acceptable for women to pursue men, to openly acknowledge their sex appeal, and movies like this helped society grapple with these concepts. In those days, the word 'sex' was considered unsuitable to be uttered in polite company---hence the euphemism 'it'. The Glyn cameo---while serving her decidedly large ego---actually served an important function here: Glyn looks like the ultimate respectable dowager. If it was okay for someone like her to talk about 'it', well, then it must be okay for us as well! This is where the true genius of the film lies: while not a classic, timeless piece of celluloid, it did fundamentally alter American culture, as did Clara herself. Clara did not play exotic, dangerous characters, the way that Theda Bara or Rudolph Valentino did. She played everyday girls---the kind you might run into while spending the day at Coney Island sucking down hot dogs and hanging with your friends. It was this changing of the idea of the sex symbol, from exotic foreigner to everyday American gal, which was one of the real catalysts for the sexual revolution that occurred during the 20th Century.

This is one of the earliest examples of a concept film. The idea behind the marketing was that after watching this film, people would go home, look in the mirror, and wonder if they had 'it'. If they didn't, they'd wonder how they could get 'it'. They would then pay good money for things that would give them 'it': a new hairstyle, snazzy clothes, a nice car, etc. This, of course, has had an incredible effect on our culture in the last 80 years; we now have entire industries that revolve around us trying claim 'it' for ourselves, and a galaxy of people who's sole purpose is to be professionally beautiful: models of 'it' for us to aspire to.

To sum this up, this film has an important place in cultural history, and it's enjoyable to watch. If you like old movies, I recommend you see it. At the very least, Clara's exuberant and coy performance will enchant you.

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