Thursday, January 25, 2007

It (1927)

It's all very innocent really. They were spinning on a big disk and they both just got off.

Genre: Silent Romantic Comedy

Starring: Clara Bow (Wings), Antonio Moreno (Creature from the Black Lagoon)

Directed By: Clarence G. Badger

Overview: When the new department store owner finds himself smitten by a sales girl, he find that she's got 'IT', that quality that makes men bend over backwards and submit to her will.
Love is never as easy as that...

Acting: So it's been a while since I've watched a silent film, given the Hitch-fest and all the television I've been watching, and I feared that I had 'moved on' so to speak, thinking that I might wish for the colour and the sound that I have again grown to expect in my film experiences. As I watched It, I realize why I've seen so many silent films, even though they may not be in the Great and Magnificent 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. When they're this well-acted, they tell the whole story, subtext and all, with vivid clarity. Now I know why of all nicknames Clara Bow was called 'The It Girl'. Wow. What awe-inspiring performances by everyone.
Rating: 10

Cinematography: 1927 was a time of pretty intensely realistic filmmaking, which basically means that sets were often on location, like out at sea on a yacht with a ukulele, or at the fair on rides, or in the department store overloaded with customers and props. This isn't high-art or a visual spectacle or anything but the quality of the visuals can compete even today, intertitles, flapper hats and all.
Rating: 8

Script: "So you're one of those Minute Men - The minute you know a girl you think you can kiss her!"

What is the worst part of a Romantic Comedy? Some would say its predictability. Others, like myself, would say 'the route that its predictability takes'. When one commits to writing a Romantic Comedy, they commit themselves to 'The Formula'. What they shouldn't commit themselves to is creating drama from improbable situations that could be resolved simply through explanation. To write a story full of plot holes for the simple sake of making the end more climactic is a sin, and for as much as It is the predictable Romantic Comedy it claims to be, anyone would do well to learn the lesson of scriptwriting the 'misunderstanding as plot device' from this piece. Aside from that, there's even real humour, and not the corny Harold Lloyd stuff of puns and similes, I mean genuine timeless laugh-out-loud moments.
Rating: 8

Plot: The twist, the thing I found strange and unusual about this film isn't in the plot, it's in the feminism. Given the day and age, Clara Bow was probably one of the least reserved individuals in film, and that quality made her quite popular indeed, not to mention the stunning smile that could light up a whole room, not in a graceful way, more like a dizzying, disco-ball party kind of way. Her energy combined with the heavy focus on her perspective of 'The Chase' makes this an interesting film historically and culturally, besides being plain old fun.
Rating: 8

Mood: The wonder that comes from being immersed into a day and age so apart from your own and understanding its cultural issues, stigmas and nuances so perfectly can either be attributed to the genius of my intellect and adaptability to foreign concepts, or, more probably, the creators' ability to tell a tale with such vivid attention to detail with a story so timeless that its viewers universally understand its unfolding. Too bad the skill was used for just a Rom-Com.
Rating: 8

Hello, Clara Bow...

Overall Rating: 84% (She's Got 'IT')

Aftertaste: The greatest risk (besides traumatization) with watching anything is that it will bore you and be a waste of time. When you compound that with a silent film of an era you've never known, along with the quality of some film prints, you're really risking things by watching silent cinema. Agreed, it's a tough call. Perhaps this isn't the best example of storytelling, given the confines of the Genre, but it's really great for understanding the socio-cultural dynamic, if I would hazard a guess at how it was back then.