It (1927)

Genres - Comedy, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy, Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Feb 5, 1927 (USA - Limited), Feb 19, 1927 (USA - Unknown), Feb 19, 1927 (USA)  |   Run Time - 70 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Hans J. Wollstein

Contrary to popular belief, Clara Bow was already Paramount's biggest box-office draw when she starred in this delightful rags-to-riches comedy. But It, from the fertile mind of bizarre best-selling author Elinor Glyn, remains perhaps the quintessential Bow picture. Not that the story of a poor shopgirl falling for her rich employer was anything new (by 1927, Bow could play that role in her sleep), but It came complete with one of the best publicity campaigns in Hollywood history. Glyn herself publicly pointed to Bow as the personification of It, "that quality possessed by some which draws all others with its magnetic force." Paramount made sure that Glyn's lofty description of the word sunk in and even convinced the author to explain It in the film to leading man Antonio Moreno (who, according to Glyn, simply oozed It as well). The lightweight comedy behind all this hoopla centered on little Betty Lou Spence, a vivacious salesgirl invited to dinner at the Ritz by foppish wastrel and self-described "old fruit" "Monty" Montgomery (William Austin in one of those roles later personified by Edward Everett Horton). Betty is not paying attention to her dinner companion, however, but is ogling department store heir Cyrus Waltham (Moreno). He notices her too, and takes the salesgirl on a whirlwind tour of Coney Island. But when Betty is mistakenly assumed to be the unmarried mother of an infant (actually her roommate Molly's), stern Cyrus no longer sees her as proper marriage material. Betty, of course, gets her man in the end and Waltham's snooty girlfriend ("other woman" specialist Jacqueline Gadsden) ends up in the drink. Delivering all the vivacious punch expected of a Bow comedy, It takes time out for a couple of rather poignant scenes. With the hindsight that Brooklyn's own Bow was never fully accepted by Hollywood society despite her stardom, it is touching to watch Betty being ostracized at the snobbish Ritz; and Bow is never more affecting than when she realizes that Moreno is offering diamonds and pearls instead of marriage. Priscilla Bonner, as Bow's drab, single-mother roommate, adds a touch of realism to her brief role, enviously observing Betty's frivolity. If It only added to Bow's brilliant success, the film did little for the intelligent Bonner. To the end of her life, Bonner maintained that accepting featured billing in It lost her any chance of true stardom. A very young Gary Cooper, has a bit as a reporter and director Josef Von Sternberg reputedly took over for Clarence Badger during a brief illness. Despite its rather trite Cinderella plot, It magnificently demonstrates why Bow's guileless flapper came to define an entire decade. It is heartbreaking to realize that her decline had already set in, and Bow's very public troubles and eventual career destruction were lurking right around the corner!



illegitimate-child, social-classes, social-climber, flapper, department-store, owner


High Artistic Quality, High Budget, High Historical Importance, High Production Values