Review: It (1927)

it

I never had it, whatever it may be, that much I can tell you!

Screenplay By: Louis D. Lighton & Hope Loring
Directed By: Clarence G. Badger & Josef von Sternberg

This is, I believe, the first Clara Bow film I’ve seen since I started taking movies more seriously. She possesses a magnetic personality, when the camera is on her face there’s no choice but to pay attention. It’s hard to describe, but she has a way of looking into the camera so that she’s looking past the camera and straight at the viewer. That’s an amazing ability, that’s some kind of weird combination of charm, personality, and, well, it. It’s poignant that Miss Bow is in It, because she certainly has everything that the film is trying to say about it.

Miss Bow is, as previously stated, magnetic, but I would content that she’s not the star of It. She’s the physical star, sure, but so much of the comedy in It is of the non-physical variety. The intertitles are where the majority of the comedy in It comes from. There’s a lot of snappy prose on display in those intertitles. The script is where It is at its funniest, most energetic, and wittiest. That’s not a slight against the performance of Miss Bow, or the direction for that matter, but Louis D. Lighton and Hope Loring deserve all the credit in the world for the rapier like wit that are the intertitles in It. Because they, and their intertitles, are the stars of the film.

I liked, but didn’t love It. I loved the film at first, but with each passing minute the film wore a little thinner with me. Basically, It says all it has to say and has trotted out its funniest bits and moments by the thirty minute mark. The film doesn’t end at that thirty minute mark, it keeps going for forty more minutes. The final forty minutes of It weren’t painful, but they felt played out, like so many romance stories that came before and would come after. Some stories should only be so long, that’s why the short film exists. It went past the point it should have ended, and the film suffers as a result

I had issues with It, but I still enjoyed the film on the whole. Watching Clara Bow in action was a pleasurable experience. The wit of the first half of the film was cutting and on the mark in the best of ways. It overstays its welcome, and by the time the film ends it is sputtering across the finish line. Whatever it may be, It doesn’t completely have it, but It sure as heck comes close to having it.

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill

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2 responses to “Review: It (1927)

  1. In other words: “What is It? It’s It! What is It?…” Okay, I had to do that old joke, sorry. I couldn’t help myself, actually. Anyway, agreed that the latter half plus ten is padding pudding and the former thirty goes for the gold and gets it mostly right.

  2. Yeah, that first half is pretty great, but the second half is pretty average.

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