Jazz baby Clara Bow dazzles as the shop girl who sets the wealthy store owner’s heart pounding in this landmark Hollywood comedy of the 20s. Though she primps her bob and preens with a gay abandon that’s totally 1927, Bow’s cheeky vitality is ageless.
No Hollywood star had ever flirted with such wicked delight or with such wholehearted promise of carnal pleasure before. Few did so again with quite the same quicksilver allure until the arrival of Marilyn Monroe 30 years later.
The concept of a mysterious quality known as ‘It’ was a 20s fad granted to posterity by the English ‘authoress’ Elinor Glyn. Glyn herself cameos, endorsing her own invention in the film, but there’s a shadow of Victorian morality hanging over our heroine too, when Mr Right is given reason to suspect that the modern girl of his dreams is harbouring a secret love child. Sadly, once the free spirits of the 20s crashed, Bow herself learned the taste of such disdain. Here, in It, she’s at her peak.
“America fell in love with Bow because of her big-eyed, baby-faced beauty, but also because she was carefree, energetic, self-assured and breezily independent. Her allure wasn’t about being darkly seductive or haughtily elegant, but about being comfortable in her own skin. Sporting short hair and short dresses, she would stride out and grab whatever – and whomever – she wanted. She was the archetypal modern woman…
‘She really came alive in front of the camera,’ says Judith Mackrell, author of Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation.
‘When you watch her, you feel as if she’s doing something very spontaneous for you, so you’re having a relationship with her. That may be an illusion, but it’s a very powerful one.’ It’s an illusion that hasn’t faded.” — Nicholas Barber, BBC.com
Marc Taddei conducts Carl Davis’ score. A popular guest conductor throughout Australasia, Marc is currently Music Director of Orchestra Wellington and the Vallejo Symphony in California. His many Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra Live Cinema engagements have included an exhilarating The Wind in 2006, an eerily romantic Nosferatu in 2011 and Carl Davis’ score for Safety Last! in 2016.
Music for silent films has been an enduring strand of the prolific Carl Davis’ activities. His 1980 score for Abel Gance’s Napoléon triggered an extraordinary revival of interest in silent film, and his oeuvre of more than 50 scores for this medium, including Flesh and the Devil, Ben-Hur, The Thief of Baghdad, Greed, Intolerance and The General, has brought him international acclaim.
Visit nziff.co.nz to see the full schedule of films on at the 2017 New Zealand International Film Festival.
“It moves with the rhythm of a hot jazz tune, and Bow lights up every moment she’s onscreen.” — Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid