[box cover]

It (1927)

These days there's a new "It" girl every 20 seconds — but before the Charlizes, Camerons, Julias and Marilyns began competing for the covers of influential glamour mags, silent screen icon Clara Bow started "it" all in this 1927 romantic lark. Bow lights up the screen as Betty Lou, a gregarious flapper working behind the lingerie desk of a giant department store. Her pocketbook may be poor, but her rich spirit catches the eye of a wealthy drunk (William Austin) who's convinced she possesses the desirable, magnetic "It" he's been searching for since he learned of it while readingCosmo. Hardly a gold-digger, Betty Lou accepts his advances only strategically (after all, he refers to himself as "Old Fruit"); she has her heart set on Old Fruit's good friend — the serious, handsome owner of the store in which she works (Antonio Moreno). Running on the same formula as many of today's romantic comedies, It amiably indulges in farcical class conflicts, convoluted misunderstandings and wacky hi-jinks to varying degrees of amusement, but Bow's presence is so strong and winning that it transforms a merely agreeable diversion into a minor classic. Foreshadowing the pillow-headed charms of Juliette Binoche and Drew Barrymore, Bow's reputation as the mother of all celebrity pin-ups seems a natural. She's well-supported by a smart pace, a witty script (with some priceless period phrases, like "Hot socks!," and, "I'm so low I could put on stilts and walk under a dachshund."), and a great comic performance by Austin, offsetting Moreno's dull but necessary reserve. Also with a young Gary Cooper in the barely recognizable bit part of a muckraking newspaperman. Presented in a miraculously nearly spotless full-frame transfer with a new piano score by Nigel Holton, this Kino offering includes the excellent hour-long documentary Clara Bow: Discovering the "It" Girl (produced by Turner Classic Movies and Hugh Hefner), which gives a riveting account of Bow's blazing rise and fall, but is sadly mis-narrated by the less-than-enthusiastic, seldom-silent celebrity Courtney Love. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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