What is “IT”? According to author Elinor Glyn, “It” is a “self-confidence and indifference to whether you are pleasing or not, and something in you that gives the impression that you are not at all cold.” The fabulous embodiment of it is the vivacious Clara Bow, star of that aptly titled 1927 hit film.
It was the first Clara Bow film I had ever seen, and several years later, I am still spellbound by her vivacity and irresistable charm. Clara shines as the shopgirl Betty Lou, who is enraptured with her handsome young department store employer. Betty Lou has plenty of It, and plenty in reserve, too. She thinks nothing of claiming her friend’s child as her own in order to ward off snooping welfare workers, nor does she let rumor and innuendo stop her from pursuing the man of her dreams.
On its own, It is a delightful tale of a tenacious shopgirl who sets her sight on the handsome and aloof young son of her department store employer, played by Antonio Moreno.
Clara’s performance is what sets this film apart from being merely a pleasant diversion from the vaults of silent cinema. Her vivacity and spunk resonate with modern audiences in a way that transcends the typically affected mannerisms of many of her contemporaries.
Clara captivates her audience with a genuine poignancy, evident not only in her remarkable range of facial emotions, but also in the way she handles the demands of each scene. She rises above adversity in such a way that garners something more than sympathy or admiration.
“She danced even when her feet were not moving. Some part of her was always in motion, if only her great rolling eyes. It was an elemental magnetism, an animal vitality, that made her the center of attraction in any company.” – Adolph Zukor