Watched February 5, 2012

The Plastic Age (1925): 3/5

The Plastic Age tells the story of a very smart, very athletic boy who heads to college with high hopes. However, upon arrival, he falls too deep into the party scene. He bombs a big track meet, his grades suffer, and his friendship with his roommate falters as a result.

Clara Bow as fast-dancing party girl Cynthia Day in The Plastic Age (1925)

Clara Bow is captivating as usual in this 1925 silent, but the film as a whole falls a bit flat. It is everything you’d expect from a good-kid-gone-wild college story and nothing else. There is nothing out of the ordinary to make it stand out above the rest.

Perhaps it’s because I watched Buster Keaton’s College not too long before that I didn’t enjoy this film as much. Though the plots are near opposite – Keaton tries to improve as an athlete while Donald Keith loses all of his athletic and study talents – they were a bit reminiscent of each other.

Both films focus on the importance of romantic relationships with college students. Both main characters are changing their lives in an attempt to impress a girl — they just happen to go about it in very different ways.

The Plastic Age serves nicely as light entertainment and as an example of one of Bow’s early-ish roles, but don’t watch it with very high expectations. Amp up the fun factor by playing “spot the Gable” (as Clark Gable makes a small appearance) and drawing comparisons to more recent college flicks, which quite obviously took inspiration from The Plastic Age and others of its kind.