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It/Clara Bow: Discovering the “It” Girl – Kino Video Deluxe Edition (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 23, 2010 by  



Harold Lloyd’s death defying silent comedy from 1922 is absolutely magnificent. Like it did with audiences back in 1922, “Safety Last!” will make you laugh but also will make you in awe of how far Lloyd went to create this film. Simply astonishing and absolutely hilarious! And this “Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection” DVD Box set is absolutely a must-own!

Images courtesy of © 2001 Kino Intl., Corp. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: It/Clara Bow: Discovering the “It” Girl (Kino Video Deluxe Edition)

DURATION: 72 Minutes for “It”/65 Minutes for “Clara Bow: Discovering the ‘It’ Girl”

DVD INFORMATION: Full Screen, Monaural, B&W

COMPANY: Kino Video

RATED: NOT RATED

RELEASE DATE: 2001

Based on the novel by Elinor Glyn

Directed by Clarence G. Badger

Written by Hope Loring and Louis D. Lighton

Titles by George Marion Jr.

Executive Produced by Jesse L. Lasky, Adolph Zukor

Produced by Clarence G. Badger, Elinor Glyn

Cinematography by E. Lloyd Sheldon

Starring:

Clara Bow – Betty Lou Spence

Antonio Moreno – Cyrus Waltham Jr.

William Austin – Monty Montgomery

Priscilla Bonner – Molly

Jacqueline Gadsden as Adela Van Norman

Julia Swayne Gordon as Mrs. Van Norman

Gary Cooper as Newspaper Reporter

Clara Bow: Discovering the “It” Girl

Narrated by Courtney Love

David Stenn (Clara’s biographer)

Budd Schulberg (author/screenwriter)

Rex Bell Jr. (Clara’s son)

Catherine Mulligan (Clara’s friend)

Diana Sera Carey aka Baby Peggy (Clara’s co-star in “Helen’s Babies”)

Leonard Maltin (film critic/historian)

A.C. Lyles (Paramount producer)

Marion Schilling

Marge Marshall

Charles “Buddy” Rogers (Clara’s co-star in “Wings”)

The quintessential flapper, Clara Bow, is captured at the height of her charm in this bubbly fable of a New York shopgirl who hunts the heart of a young millionaire.

The “Roaring Twenties” were a time when flaming youth ran wild, and no one ran wilder than Clara Bow. Hollywood’s first sex symbol, Bow was a one-woman revolution who shattered social and sexual taboos as she breathed new life into the motion picture industry.

Clara Bow: Discovering the ‘It’ Girl features scenes from 25 of her films, as well as interviews with family members an acquaintances. Including seven minutes of additional material not seen in the TV version, this Kino on Video edition explores Bow’s difficult childhood, her Cinderella-like rise to fame and the troubled turns in her career at the end of the silent era.

Narrated by Courtney Love, Clara Bow: Discovering The ‘It’ Girl features scenes from 25 of her films, as well as interviews with family members and acquaintances (including biographer David Stenn, Budd Shulberg, Leonard Maltin and her son Rex Bell, Jr.). With an original score by Nigel Holton.

1927 and after the premiere of the silent romantic comedy “It”, actress Clara Bow would become the sexiest silent movie star in America during the roaring ’20s.

Having done well in films such as “The Plastic Age” and “Mantrap”, “It” was as if the film was created just for Clara.   The film was inspired by Elinor Glynn’s (who pioneered women’s erotic fiction) self-titled novel and she would coin the term “It” to erroneously describe sex appeal.  And Clara Bow definitely had sex appeal.

Bow who would become one of the popular female stars of the Flapper era ( a term from the 1920’s to describe liberal young women who defied the norm of acceptable behavior by sporting short skirts, bobbed hair, listened to jazz, wore a lot of makeup and drinking, smoking, driving cars and even being sexual.

And Clara Bow embraced her flapper character of Betty Lou Spence in “It”.  A timeless classic romantic comedy from the Killiam Collection and released by Kino Video via a Deluxe Edition which contains the silent film and also the Clara Bow documentary “Clara Bow: Discovering the “It” Girl”.

“It” begins with Monty Montgomery (played by William Austin”) reading an issue of “Cosmopolitan” about who has “It”, an article about Elinor Glyn’s popular book on sex appeal.  As new department store owner Cyrus Waltham Jr. (played by Antonio Moreno) is busy at work and trying to please his childhood friend Adela Van Norman (played by Jacqueline Gadsen), Monty goes to search for a woman that has “It”.

And sure enough, Monty discovers an employee who works over the counter who has “It”.  A flapper named Betty Lou Spence (played by Clara Bow) who is just enamored by the new owner Cyrus Waltham Jr.

Betty Lou dreams that one day she will be Mr. Waltham’s woman but for now, she can only dream.

Meanwhile, Monty pursues Betty Lou as the “It” girl and Betty Lou looks as Monty as a way for her to get to know Mr. Waltham.  Meanwhile, at home, we see that Betty Lou is a woman who doesn’t have much money and lives with her friend Molly (played by Priscilla Bonner) who is ill and has a baby.  It appears that because of Molly’s illness, the child protective agency wants to take the baby away from her.  But Betty Lou does all she can to calm her nerves and reassure her that things will be OK.

As Betty Lou uses her sexual charm on Monty, she has him taking her out to a posh restaurant that Mr. Waltham attends and immediately uses her charm to get his attention, despite Waltham sitting with his fiance/friend Adela.

All Betty Lou needs is that short moment in order to use her sexual appeal on Mr. Waltham and sure enough, from the moment Waltham meets Betty Lou, he is enamored and likes her.

Everything seems to be going as planned for Betty Lou as she seems to have Mr. Waltham in her grasp but when the child protective services try to take the baby away from her friend Molly, Betty Lou steps in and tells the agency reps that the baby belongs to her.

Now Monty and Mr. Waltham try to cope with the news that Betty Lou is a mother of a baby the best they can.  Will Betty Lou now lose her dream man?

As for the documentary “Clara Bow: Discovering the “It” Girl”, Courtney Love narrates the documentary featuring interviews with Clara Bow’s family and friends and film critics and biographers.  The documentary goes into Clara’s turbulent life from having a grandmother and mother who suffered mental problems (note: epilepsy a the time was considered a severe mental disorder), her mother upset that Clara was pursuing acting and one night waking up and seeing her mother standing over her with a butcher knife to her neck to other situations that affected her upbringing.

But what was most damaging was because she was such a sex symbol, there were many slanderous false rumors about her which the public believed to Clara Bow being the “It” girl during the silent era and during the year of the “talkies”, having mental breakdowns due to her fear of the mic and going from Paramount’s darling to an actress they would literally cut out (unfortunately, a sad story that is attached to many once popular silent film stars).

And then ending with her life outside of entertainment with husband and popular Cowboy actor) Rex Bell and hearing her son Rex Bell Jr. talking about the mother he knew during the final stages of her life.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

It’s important to note that many silent films from the 1920’s don’t fare that well.  Being filmed on nitrate (which deteriorated or caught fire), many silent films are lost or destroyed and what we are left with are classics that range from being good prints to some having massive scratches, debris and flickering.  “It” is a film that is more towards the middle.  Some of the scenes show scratches, debris and minor flickering and aliasing.

Fortunately, the print quality is definitely watchable and unless there are many other reels out there to create a restored print, this DVD from Kino Video is probably the best we are going to see of “It” for now.  Considering this film, is over 80-years-old, I’m not going to complain, I feel that it is fortunate that this film was not lost and that we can watch this film today.

As for the documentary, the documentary was made in 1999 and picture quality is very good on DVD.

AUDIO:

As for audio, although the film is silent, there is music via a piano score by William Perry.  The music works well with this film and captures the mood of the characters.

Intertitles are in English.

As for the audio of “Clara Bow: Discovering the ‘It’ Girl”, Courtney Love did a very good job in narration for the documentary and interviewees and everyone is heard quite well.  No problems whatsoever when it comes to the documentary’s audio.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are no special features included in this release.

“It” was a satisfying, enjoyable and delightful romantic comedy from the silent era.  Clara Bow exudes beauty and sexiness through her flirtatious eyes, pouty lips and if anything, she knew how to work the camera to with magnificent results.  She embodied the title of “It” Girl and it was evident throughout this film that Clara Bow was America’s sexiest superstar at that time.

I laughed throughout this film because the comedy was well-played.  From Clara Bow’s character playing hard-to-get plus an enjoyable date scene between Betty Lou and Mr. Walther in Coney Island.  You can tell the two had a lot of fun and overall pacing and cinematography was fun to watch.

But along with this enjoyable film is the documentary “Clara Bow: Discovering the ‘It’ Girl”.  I had no idea that Clara’s life was so turbulent.  From hearing how painful her childhood was, to knowing now that when she sheds a tear on film, those tears were genuine out of grief of a friend who died in a fire in her building and the boy dying in her arms.

And what was even more damning was the gossip coverage of her during the 1920’s and 1930’s.  Way before anyone was suing people for inflammatory accusations, Clara Bow had the worst treatment.  Yes, she was Hollywood’s sex symbol and had her share of flings but the rumors about her were so terrible that she was literally beaten.  And the transition from the silent film era to the talkies was not exactly easy for her either.

It’s unfortunate and heartbreaking that a woman who would be regarded as the “It” girl would suffer so much pain in her life but when the camera was on, she made all who viewed her film that she was confident, sexy and happy.  She was a true actress who knew how to give a magnificent performance despite the demons that she faced within her.

“It” and her later film “Wings” (which was the first Academy Award winning film) are just two of the films that she’s known for but if anything, this DVD release from Kino Video has inspired me to seek out more Clara Bow films.  Her performance on “It” was magnificent, the film was enjoyable and fun.

Overall, this is one DVD release that silent films want to own and have in their collection.  Watch the magnificent Clara Bow and you too will realize why she was definitely “It”!

‘It’/’Clara Bow: Discovering the “It” Girl’ on DVD is highly recommended!


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