Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1927) di Elinor Glyn. Scen.: Hope Loring, Louis D. Lighton, Elinor Glyn. F.: H. Kinley Martin. M.: E. Lloyd Sheldon. Int.: Clara Bow (Betty Lou), Antonio Moreno (Cyrus Waltham), William Austin (Mr. Montgomery, detto Monty), Jacqueline Gadsdon (Adela Van Norman), Gary Cooper (reporter), Julia Swayne Gordon (Mrs. Van Norman), Priscilla Bonner (Molly), Elinor Glyn (se stessa). Prod.: Adolph Zukor, Jesse L. Lasky per Paramount Famous Lasky Corp. 35mm. Bn.
It is as quintessentially 1920s as The Great Gatsby if only a few notches further down the social scale. Without Clara Bow, it would be a pleasant if somewhat thinly plotted romantic comedy, but with her, it becomes a film you can hang a decade on. The bobbed hairstyle, the cloche hats, cupid’s bow lips, the fast cars, yachts and Coney Island funfairs were the outer trappings, but there was an indefinable mood about the 1920s which all had to do with the city, breaking away from the previous generation, freedom, youth, success, mobility and materialism. Central to one’s success in the 1920s was ‘It’. Elinor Glyn, author of the original story, defined ‘It’ as ‘“hat quality possessed by some which draws all others with its magnetic force” […]
Clara Bow, who plays Betty Lou, a department-store shop girl who has sworn to marry the boss, clearly has ‘It’. We know this because the silly-ass friend Monty (William Austin) carries a copy of Glyn’s story in an issue of “Cosmopolitan” round the store eyeing up the girls for signs of the magical quality. When he spots Betty Lou, he recognises it straightaway, and when Betty Lou sees the boss, Cyrus Waltham, she detects something in him too […]
There is a good deal of comedy in the fact that initially he doesn’t see her at all. But none of this matters, because when Clara Bow is on the screen, you can’t look at anything else. She is mesmerising, vivacious, flirty without being worryingly sexy, kittenish and adorable.
The sequence where she takes Waltham to taste the proletarian pleasures of Coney Island seems entirely designed to reveal more of her than would normally be on show … Betty Lou is refreshingly feisty on behalf of a downtrodden friend who is being harassed by do-gooders trying to deprive her of her baby. Betty claims the baby is her own, which is the root of the misunderstanding that leads to Waltham offering her protection short of marriage. She is rightly outraged, for like Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), a pastiche of the Roaring Twenties partly based on It, Betty Lou is really a nice old-fashioned girl. It is left to the silly-ass friend to put things straight, but not before she has had a chance to deliver a spirited left hook to Waltham’s ladylike fiancée – described as ‘one of ’ eighteen million blondes. The blonde is left with ‘It’-less Monty and the ‘It’ girl gets her man.
Bryony Dixon, 100 Silent Films, BFI, London 2011