It (1927 movie)

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It is a 1927 silent movie. It is a romantic comedy movie. The story is about a girl who works in a department store. She sets her sights on her handsome and rich boss. The movie's star Clara Bow became known as the "It girl". Dorothy Parker quipped about Bow's character: "It, hell: She had those."[1] The picture was believed lost, but a copy was found in Prague in the 1960s.[2] In 2001, It was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Story[change | change source]

Betty Lou Spence (Clara Bow) has a crush on her handsome boss, Cyrus Waltham, Jr. (Antonio Moreno). He is the new manager of his father's big department store. They belong to different social classes. He is already romantically involved with socialite Adela Van Norman (Jacqueline Gadsden). Cyrus's silly friend Monty (William Austin) notices Betty. She uses him to get closer to Cyrus.

When she finally gets Cyrus's attention, she convinces him to take her on a date to Coney Island. He has a wonderful time. He tries to kiss her on the way home. Betty Lou slaps his face. She hurries out of his car and into her flat. She then peeks out her window at him as he drives away.

Betty bravely proclaims herself as an unmarried mother to protect her sickly roommate Molly (Priscilla Bonner) from having her baby taken away by a couple of meddling welfare workers. Monty arrives at just the wrong moment, forcing Betty to continue the charade with him. He tells Cyrus. Although he is in love with her, Cyrus offers her an "arrangement" that includes everything but marriage. Betty Lou, shocked and humiliated, refuses, quits her job, and resolves to forget Cyrus. When she learns from Monty about Cyrus's misunderstanding, she fumes, and vows to teach her former beau a lesson.

When Cyrus hosts a yachting excursion, Betty Lou makes Monty take her along, masquerading as "Miss Van Cortland". Cyrus at first wants to remove her from the ship, but he cannot long resist Betty Lou's it factor; he eventually corners her and proposes marriage, but she gets him back, by telling him that she'd "rather marry his office boy", which accomplishes her goal, but breaks her heart.

He then learns the truth about the baby, and leaves Monty at the helm of the yacht to go find her. Monty crashes the yacht into a fishing boat, tossing both Betty Lou and Adela into the water. Betty Lou saves Adela, punching her in the face when she panics and threatens to drown them both. At the end of the movie, she and Cyrus reconcile on the anchor of the yacht, with the first two letters of the ship's name, Itola, between them. Monty and Adela are upset at losing their friends however, it's implied they pursue a relationship with each other as the movie ends.

The concept of "It"[change | change source]

Elinor Glynn is thought to have invented the concept of It. Actually, in 1904, R. Kipling, in the short story "Mrs. Bathurst" introduced It.[3][4][5]

It isn't beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It's just 'It'. Some women will stay in a man's memory if they once walk down the street.[6]

In February 1927 Cosmopolitan published a two-part serial story in which Glyn defined It.

That quality possessed by some which draws all others with its magnetic force. With 'It' you win all men if you are a woman and all women if you are a man. 'It' can be a quality of the mind as well as a physical attraction.

Production[change | change source]

Paramount Pictures paid Glyn $50,000 for the concept. They gave her a small part in the movie as herself. She was given a "story and adaptation" credit.[7]

Hope Loring, Louis D. Lighton and George Marion Jr. (titles) wrote the screenplay. Carl Sandburg noted that Glyn's magazine story was "not at all like the film, not like it in any respect." [8]

This is one of the first examples of a "concept film". It is also one of the earliest examples of product placement. The concept of "It" is referred to throughout the movie. In one scene, Glyn appears as herself to define "It" for Mr. Waltham. Cosmopolitan Magazine is featured prominently in another scene. In this scene, the character Monty reads Glyn's story and introduces it to the audience.

Stage actress Dorothy Tree had her first movie role in a small, uncredited part. A young Gary Cooper was cast in a minor role as a newspaper reporter.

Reception[change | change source]

It was a hit with American audiences. It broke box office records. Critics praised the movie. They said Bow was "a joy to behold".[9]

References[change | change source]

  1. Clara Bow Peep,
  2. Lynn Langway, July 26, 1970, San Antonio Express
  3. March 9, 1930, NYT
  4. April 17, 1932, Galveston Daily News
  5. August 25, 1955, San Antonio Light
  6. "Rudyard Kipling's short story: MRS. Bathurst". Archived from the original on 2011-05-30. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  7. J. Morella and E. Epstein, "The 'It' Girl", Delacorte Press, 1976, page85, ISBN 0-440-04127-9
  8. February 11, 1927, Film Reviews and Essays, 1920-1928, Lake Claremont Press, 2000
  9. Stenn, David, Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild, Pg 86, 1988 Penguin Books, a Division of Viking Penguin, New York, New York, originally published by Doubleday, New York, New York

Other websites[change | change source]