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It is famous for turning cutie-pie Clara Bow into, as critic David Thomson described her, "the first mass-market sex symbol." Somewhat overshadowed by this phenomenon is the fact that It is also a terrifically entertaining picture, an effortless cruise through the manners and morals of the flapper era. Bow plays a shopgirl who sets her saucer eyes on her boss (Antonio Moreno); it isn't terribly hard to land him, since she possesses dazzle, charm, spunk... in a word, "It." And if we're still not sure what "It" is, there's a moment of high camp hilarity when matronly author Elinor Glyn, who penned the original definition of "It," strides through the movie and delivers herself of its meaning. Actually, Bow's delightful performance does more to define "It" than anything else, and her unabashed sexiness (which didn't play well after sound came in) clearly sets the future course for Marilyn Monroe and Madonna.
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The only edition at present that I've seen is the Milestone, but I can tell you that it lived up to its hype. The musical score by Carl Davis is brilliant and supplements the film beautifully. The picture quality and restoration are both first-rate; it's easy to see why audiences flocked to see Clara and her co-star, Antonio Moreno. Incidentally, I enjoyed seeing Moreno in this very-different role from the one he played opposite Greta Garbo a couple of years before in THE TEMPTRESS (available in the TCM Archives: The Garbo Silents Collection (The Temptress / Flesh and the Devil / The Mysterious Lady)).
IT, in case you're wondering, is (or at least *includes*) 'sex appeal.' This was a more polite way of talking about it...and sometimes subtlety doesn't hurt. It certainly doesn't injure THIS film.
Even though this edition is out-of-print, it's worth pursuing. Kino makes a great product and I have a great many films from them, but if you can lay hands on the Milestone edition, do it.
Directed by Clarence Badger, IT is a spirited, romantic comedy about a salesgirl in a department store (Bow) with eyes for her boss (Antonio Moreno), and the misunderstandings that ensue in her attempt to win his heart.
The film is a total delight from start to finish, and while most of this is due to Bow's captivating screen presence, IT also perfectly captures the carefree spirit of the 20's, especially in the fun Coney Island sequence.
There's two DVDs of IT that I recommend: Kino's 2001 release with a piano score by William Perry that also has the documentary, "Clara Bow: Discovering the 'It' Girl", and Milestone's 2003 restored version featuring a great orchestral score by Carl Davis, commentary by Jeanine Basinger and a stills gallery. Both versions are from the same source print, but Milestone's has a slight edge in sharpness and is the one connoisseurs like me will prefer. I got the Kino copy mainly for the documentary. I also have a soft spot for William Perry's work, as he scored so many silents from the Killiam Collection back in the day.
Whichever version you decide on - Kino or Milestone - this is a "feel good" movie that's very easy to watch and enjoy, thanks to the charming, effervescent Clara Bow. I guess if I had to pick one title to introduce newcomers to the unique pleasure of silent films, it would be IT.