"It" (1927) is one of my favorite romantic comedies of the silent era. Directed by Clarence Badger and adapted from the novel by Elinor Glyn which created the catch phrase for sex appeal, the film is actually a Cinderella story where the girl becomes the pursuer instead of being pursued. Clara Bow plays Betty Lou Spence, a beautiful, bold and self-confident sales girl at the Waltham Department Store who swoons over Cyrus Waltham, played by Antonio Moreno, the handsome owner. Cyrus, however, does not even notice Betty Lou. Hoping she can attract Cyrus' attention, Betty Lou accepts a date with his best friend Monty on the condition that they dine at the Ritz where Cyrus is dining that evening. Monty believes that Betty Lou is loaded with "it." Cyrus finally notices Betty Lou's many charms and becomes interested in her. They do go out on a date and have a marvelous time together. In no time at all, Betty Lou and Cyrus are contemplating marriage. However, the romance chills when a newspaper reporter writes a story describing Betty Lou as an unwed mother. Can Betty Lou regain Cyrus' love for her? You will have to watch the film to find out.
"It" is not an important film in the development of cinema in terms of technique or theme. Instead, it is the signature film of Clara Bow, one of the top box office stars of the late silent era; the one that sparked Bow's nickname, "the 'It' Girl." Bow was the first mass-marketed sex symbol and many of her films were vehicles specifically to show her off. Hollywood was determined to use her sexual presence to elevate her. I love the film because it is so enjoyable to watch. Bow had great comedic timing and a magnetic presence that simply lights up the screen. She had beautiful expressive eyes, facial expressions and physical gestures that were so appropriate for silent films. One of the most touching scenes is when Cyrus offers Betty Lou something less noble than the marriage she wants from him. Her eyes registered so much pain that it pulled at my heart. The scenes of Betty Lou and Cyrus' date at Coney Island are so fun to watch. Antonio Moreno, an exceedingly handsome leading man during the silent era, gives a top-notch performance as Betty Lou's love interest. What I love most about the film is that it touches on social issues of the times. Films, like "It," made during the 1920's helped free women from the restrictive Victorian era morals. It became more acceptable for women to pursue men and acknowledge their sex appeal.