Original "It" Girl

I love old movies but I tend to stick towards the 1940s - 1970s. Silent movies have never really appealed to me-- until the other night when I watched It, the movie whose story is the reason
we have the overused term, "It Girl." I just finished a book about Clara Bow and wanted to see what her appeal was, so I rented her most famous movie that made her a gigantic star.

Amazingly, I was completely engaged in the story and didn't miss hearing dialogue at all. The acting was phenomenal and so was the ragtime jazz soundtrack that played along with the movie.

This term was coined by Madam Elinor Glyn, a British author known for her romantic novellas and who wrote the short story "It", which was made into the silent film in 1927.

"He had that nameless charm, with a strong magnetism which can only be called "It", and cats-- as well as women -- always knew when he came into the room."
---from "It" by Elinor Glyn

Bow is so lovely on- screen, she sparkles and shines and you can easily see, all these years later, what made her so appealing. She's definitely got "It".

Raised in poverty in Brooklyn, at 15 or 16 she landed a role in a Hollywood film. It was a bit part and her role was eventually cut, but through this exposure, Clara Bow was noticed by producers and on her way to fame as America's #1 flapper.

She was known as being kind, genuine and down to earth. The spotlight never went to her head (unfortunately it did go to her thighs though, in the 1930s, but she still looked beautiful).

She reminds me a lot of the French actress, Juliette Binoche, don't you think? Especially in this picture.

Bow was so charismatic and un-selfconscious that men and women alike fell for her natural charm. She was a sexpot and a girl's best pal, all-in-one.

With the adoption of "The Code" in the movie industry, Bow was pushed out of Hollywood. Producers used the excuse that her voice didn't record well for the new talking pictures, but the reality was that a sneaky clause had been written into her contract. It had to do with "decency" -- apparently Clara (in her personal life), did not live up to the "morality" part of her contract.

Well it was Hollywood's loss. New stars came into the picture-- maybe more exotic-- Dietrich, Harlow, but there was something Clara had that you just couldn't put your finger on-- see the movie It and you'll know what I mean.

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  1. hi thanks for stoppin' by!
    i just read CLARA BOW: RUNNIN' WILD last week (is that the book you read? the link didnt work for some reason...) and really enjoyed it. wasnt her childhood so fascinating? and i love that she was discovered from a mail-in magazine contest (was it motion picture magazine?) - seems like the stuff of fairy tales. not that her experience thereafter was entirely fairy tale-esque of course. louise brooks' character in prix de beaute wins fame the same way, must have been common in those days? but i wonder how many stars really got to hollywood through magazine beauty contests?



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