It

It (1927) Director: Clarence G. Badger and Josef von Sternberg (uncredited)

It1927clarabow.jpg

It is the career-launching silent comedy film that labeled Clara Bow as the quintessential “It Girl.” The story is based on a serialized novella written by Elinor Glyn (a romance writer best known for the “It Girl”). It was published in Cosmopolitan magazine.

Clara Bow plays Betty Lou Spence, a department store worker who has a crush on her employer, Cyrus, who is the young owner of the chain of department stores. Betty makes efforts to clean up her appearance (the film has an amusing product placement of Cosmopolitan). However, Cyrus is betrothed to another woman, and a friend of Cyrus’s shows interest in Betty. She uses this friend as an effort to get to Cyrus. Eventually, Cyrus and Betty go on a date at a theme park. The plot twist comes when Betty tries to help her roommate, whose child is being taken away by social workers. Betty claims the child is hers, and when Cyrus learns of a child, he changes his intentions with Betty. He essentially offers her the opportunity to be his mistress. In anger, she declines his offer and vows to seek revenge on him. Some time later, she attends a party on a yacht where Cyrus suddenly proposes marriage to Betty when he can contain himself no longer (overwhelmed by her “it factor”) but Betty declines. Shortly thereafter, Cyrus realizes the noble thing Betty has done for her friend, and that she does not actually have a child. In the end, they reconcile.

It was considered a lost film for years until a nitrate copy was discovered in Prague in the 1960s. Interestingly, a very young Gary Cooper has a minor background role as a newspaper boy.

Review

★★★☆☆

It is an entertaining little romantic-comedy film from the silent era. It is known almost exclusively for what the film did to Clara Bow’s career. Is It an essential film? Probably not.

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