Saturday, May 25, 2013

It (Clarence G. Badger, 1927)

   A young and vivacious salesgirl falls head over heels in love with her boss. The boss' best friend is also attracted to the young woman, declaring that she has "it" --as coined by British writer Elinor Glyn. Initially, the boss is immune to the girl's charms since he barely notices her. The girl will stop at nothing to gain the heart of her love interest. She accepts a date with the best friend at the Ritz, having overhead that her boss would be dining there that evening. And it is there that the boss finally notices her and too falls madly in love. So begins a hot pursuit that is quickly halted when a press release declares that the girl is an unmarried mother. Big no no during those times.

   A really beautiful silent film and quite possibly one of the best romance films I've ever seen. The performers are nice in their parts but nobody holds a candle to Clara Bow, the titular "It" Girl. Her acting style is impressive. It fits the silent era style of film acting, yet it also possesses a certain naturalism that would be a grace to be seen on modern day screens. It is not hard to imagine just why this film made such a resounding success story out of Clara Bow. Whatever "it" is, she has it aplenty. It just goes to show that great acting is not the only thing that makes a great performer. Screen presence should be equally commended. Whenever she is on the screen, the film lights up in pure magical delight. But, I should not stray from also commending her acting chops. There is a scene in the film where Clara Bow realizes the implications of what her boss is saying to her. Due to her supposed child born out of wedlock, he insinuates that he'd rather have her on as his kept woman rather than wife material. The look that flashes on her eyes is heart-wrenching. Tears flow in her eyes but, as she maintains her strong resolve, she does not let them fall and forcibly holds them back. The tears shift horizontally across her pupils just as the many waves of emotion shift through those dark portals of hers and flash to the audience Bow's character's innermost feelings. This is one of the best acting I've seen. Ever. If only for that scene. Due to the script, she spends the rest of the movie away from showing off her dramatic skills; regardless, her comedic talents more than make up for that. Besides, I find comedic acting much more commendable than dramatic acting. It is much rarer to find a great bout of truly good comedic acting compared to a dramatic one. It is through Clara Bow's vivacity and comedic moments that we get an insight into her character and come to really cherish her. No wonder the public fell in love with her. I did too. This was my first Clara Bow film and certainly not my last.

   It is a must-see. I don't know what it is about modern day romantic comedies, but they lack something that films from Hollywood past seemed to naturally ooze. I don't think this is just a case of nostalgia. I didn't live during the 20s and have no desire to really. Especially not with those social mores (a man rejecting a woman because she had a baby out of marriage. Cringe-worthy!).The strangest thing about this issue is that It should be the film I condemn as being formulaic --not the ones released today-- since the formulas It utilizes have been way overused nowadays. As far as the films today are concerned, I guess it does not matter if you follow the recipe thoroughly; you must add something extra to really bring out the taste in your craft. A sprinkle of magic, fairy dust or whatever the hell these films back then have that I can't put plainly into words. The ingredients used to make them are enriched by something indescribable and intangible. These films had it. Maybe a better analyst and/or writer than I can voice what I'm trying to say. What really matters is that everybody can still experience that thing, that it. What is it?

Ludovico Rating


  1. I am sorry to say I haven't seen this one, but certainly wish I could now. This sounds tremendous and I have always loved Clara in the past. Thanks for a great post, I can't wait to see this one.

    1. It's very hopeful to hear you say you love Clara because I can't wait to watch more of her films. She's amazing.