Review of 'It'
Clara Bow and Cast of 'It'
Clara Bow and cast of the silent film, IT.

Clara Bow silent film 'It'
still hilarious today

The romantic comedy IT, shown at the Egyptian Theater during the 2013 TCM Film Festival, featured Clara Bow in the role of a spirited shop girl who possessed the desirable “It” quality. This quality wasn’t easily defined in the movie. It must have been taboo to mouth the words “sex appeal” in silent films. Bow played the part of Betty Lou Spence so well in 1927 that she will always be remembered as the “It Girl”.

From today’s perspective, her character was a forerunner to the modern woman in that she was assertive, self-confident, enter-prising, and focused. No matter that her focus was to marry her wealthy boss, Cyrus Waltham, Jr., the owner of the department store where she worked, she was still a woman who knew how to make things happen. Happily, this is a comedy so her shallowness can be forgiven, especially when accompanied by so many amus-ing happenings.

Betty Lou and Cyrus, played by Antonio Moreno, are from different social classes and he is romantically linked to another woman. But this doesn’t stop Betty Sue. In no time, she manages to get closer to Cyrus through his best friend, Monty, who happens to be interested in her because he thinks she has “It”, a desirable quality that was described in a magazine article he was reading. When she finally gets Cyrus's attention, she convinces him to take her on a casual date to Coney Island and their romance begins.

Later on, to protect her sickly roommate, Molly, from having her baby taken away by a couple of welfare workers, Betty bravely insists she is the mother of the baby. Monty arrives at the apartment and she continues the charade with him. He later tells Cyrus. Even though he is in love with Betty Lou, Cyrus offers her an "arrangement" that does not include marriage. Betty Lou, who does not know Cyrus thinks she has a baby, is shocked and humiliated. She refuses the offer, quits her job, and tries to forget Cyrus.

After she learns from Monty about Cyrus' misunderstanding, she becomes angry and determined to teach Cyrus a lesson. When Cyrus hosts a yachting excursion, Betty Lou decides to crash the

party. This is where hilarity takes over.

This film reminds me of another film made in 1941, Bachelor Mother, starring Ginger Rogers. While this was not a remake of
IT, the movie contained similar characters and some of the same plot contrivances --mainly the wrong assumption that the Ginger Rogers’ character was an unwed mother.

The film IT was thought to be lost until the 1960s when it was found and later restored. A 15-piece orchestra, conducted by Robert Ziegler, performed the original score composed by Carl Davis, who is known for writing new scores for silent-films. He was not present at the screening.

I knew that Clara Bow was an early actress, but I really wasn’t very familiar with her work in silent or pre-code talking films. That is, until I started attending the TCM Film Festival in 2011. So far, TCM features at least one Clara Bow film each year and it is something that I always pen in on the festival schedule. I’ve come to really appreciate her as an actress--both drama and comedy, both silent and talkie. Her film was introduced by David Stenn, author of Clara Bow: Runnin’ Wild. He always provides interesting information and insight into this complex film actress who he said was only 21 years old when the film IT was made.

IT was a very pleasant evening at the movies where I discovered that IT holds up today for its entertainment value more so than its historical value and depiction of a bygone era.

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IT sheet music
Photo courtesy of Turner Classic Movies
Sheet music used by musicians playing the score for It.