One year, one film: 1927
It, dir. Clarence Badger
starring Clara Bow, Antonio Moreno, William Austin, Jacqueline Gadsdon
Recommended | Highly Recommended | MUST-SEE
Of the 1927 Clara Bow releases, two are the most iconic films she ever made: It and Wings. I struggled to choose between the two for this post, the only tie-breaker being that I’d already done a lengthy post about Wings for the World War I in Classic Film blogathon.
It is a wonderful comedy of lovestruck store clerk Betty Lou (Bow) who goes to great lengths to catch the eye of her handsome boss (Antonio Moreno). Based on a story by Elinor Glyn, the film is remembered for the popularization of the term “it girl” and offers an iconic portrayal the spunky, modern ’20s girl.
This is one of my go-to films to recommend to people unfamiliar with silents. It’s so lively, and Clara Bow’s screen presence so captivating, that it’s impossible not to love.
Six of the films released in 1927 starred Clara Bow. SIX. It’s no wonder she’s remembered as a cinematic icon despite the fact that her career (sadly) only lasted about a decade before she gave up on Hollywood. Reliable box office numbers for the ’20s are hard to find, so take these lists with a grain of salt, but Wikipedia and flickchart.com both have various Clara films peppering the “top” lists for the year.
For the first time in my research for “One year, one film,” Mordaunt Hall and I diverge. He doesn’t seem to hold quite as high an opinion of It as I do, writing, “Although this subject is not annoying, it could never be assured of possessing a fraction of suspense or one iota of subtlety” (February 13, 1927).
Variety, like many other mags* at the time, recognizes Bow’s growing star power. “But you can’t get away from this Clara Bow girl. She certainly has that certain ‘It’ for which the picture is named, and she just runs away with the film.”
(*Photoplay mags from the tail end of the ’20s mention Bow frequently, usually in conjunction with the term “It” or “It girl,” and usually with high praise of her charm and charisma.)
One of many wonderful entries into Clara Bow’s brief filmography, It is another film that I consider a “must-see,” Mordaunt’s criticism be damned!