Saturday, January 23, 2010

Clara Bow "The Plastic Age" (1925)

"The Plastic Age" (1925) is a silent romantic comedy starring Clara Bow, Donald Keith, and Gilbert Roland. Directed by Wesley Ruggles and adapted from the novel by Percy Marks, this film is a portrayal of college youth during the Jazz Age. The story begins with Hugh Carver, played by Donald Keith, a high school athletic star, going off to Prescott College. Before he leaves home, his father explains sex to him, but Hugh looks confused. When he arrives at Prescott College, Hugh is shocked to know that his roommate Carl Peters, played by Gilbert Roland, is quite the ladies man and party animal. With little or no experience with girls, Hugh encounters the "hotsy-totsy" Cynthia Day, played by Clara Bow, while invading a sorority house during his freshman hazing. Inflamed by hormones, Hugh decides to start smoking. When the 440 yard race comes up, he comes in dead last. When Hugh's parents visit the campus, his father tells him not to return home until he "has made good." Hugh doesn't seem to care. Cynthia has become his first priority in life and he is deep into the party scene. This causes a fight between Hugh and Carl, ending their friendship. Realizing that her partying lifestyle is hurting Hugh, Cynthia tells him they can't see each other any more. "The Plastic Age" was a huge hit. Even though Clara Bow had appeared in more than two dozen films up to that time, it is this film that is credited with elevating her to the ranks of superstardom. Bow's performance and on-screen magnetism rather than the story line accomplished this feat. However, the film was released at the height of the flapper age so the timing was perfect. Bow expresses the youthful energy and playfulness that made her an icon of the era. Bow's Cynthia Day is Betty Boop in the flesh. With her bobbed hair, big eyes, and boop-a-doop personality, she is so cute and lovable. Every time she comes on the screen she lights up everything around her. It is clearly hinted that Cynthia is a playful sexual aggressor, but she is virtuous enough. Donald Keith is very credible in the role of Hugh Carver. His infatuation with Cynthia comes across quite well. A nineteen year old Luis Antonio Damaso Alonso, who was renamed Gilbert Roland, was signed for the second lead as Carl Peters. Roland's physical appearance certainly fits the role of the handsome college man. Fans of Clark Gable may find the film worthwhile just for taking a glimpse of him in several scenes as an athlete. Although "It" was the film that sparked Bow's nickname, "The Plastic Age" was the one in which she played her first flapper and made the role her own.



  1. Silent, I can not wait to see this movie. It sounds like a story from 2010. My favorite picture, is the first one. :)

  2. Dawn, this is a fun film to watch. You are right, the storyline is very relevant in 2010. Clara Bow had great screen presence. It was also fun to watch Gilbert Roland in his first screen appearance. He is the young man on the right hand corner on the second picture. I don't know if you are aware that Roland had a Hollywood career that spanned almost 60 years. Thanks for posting a reminder of when The Merry Widow and The Duchess of Idaho will be aired on TCM.

  3. Silent, I will look up Gilbert Roland, to learn more about him.

    I have not seen The Merry Widow or The Duchess of Idaho. I'm really looking forward to watching them . Reviews will be a little late.


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