Directed by Clarence G. Badger
Written by Hope Loring, Louis D. Lighton (screenplay) Elinor Glyn (story and adaptation)
Starring Clara Bow, Antonio Moreno, William Austin, Priscilla Bonner, Elinor Glyn
Full Movie on Youtube
The title is familiar, but this isn’t the Stephen King novel (and spinoffs). Nor is it the classic story by Theodore Sturgeon. It was a silent movie far removed in theme, and one of the sensations of its era.
Betty Lou Spence (Clara Bow) is a shop girl in a big department store, who takes a shine to the store’s owner Cyrus Waltham (Antonio Moreno). Cyrus’s silly-ass friend Monty spots Betty Lou and declares she has “It,” a combination of charm and sex appeal, a concept he found in a story by Elinor Glyn in a story in Cosmopolitgan magazine. He asks her out, and she agrees, as a way to get closer to Cyrus. They meet and start seeing each other with a trip to Coney Island.
But there’s a problem. Betty Lou’s roommate, Molly (Priscilla Bonner) is an unwed mother, out of a job. When social workers try to take the baby away, Betty Lou claims the baby is hers, and won’t name the father. This creates complications of class and social norms with Cyrus.
The movie made Clara Bow a sensation. She had been acting and starring in films throughout the decade, but this was the one that put her on the map. She is charming and clearly personifies the concept of “It.”* She was known as the “It girl” from then on.
The movie was a massive success, as expected for something that creates a new term. Bow became a top box office draw. But her transition to talkies was difficult. Nothing was wrong with her voice, but she didn’t like the restrictions on movement it required and had some trouble to adjusting. Her only major talkie was the Oscar-winning Wings and she retired from acting in 1933.
Oddly for a film that was so successful, it was thought for many years to be lost, but a print showed up in the 1960s and it can be seen on Youtube.
*Elinor Glyn, who appeared in the movie as herself, never conclusively defined what she meant by it, In the original story, it was a man who had “It,” but Hollywood decided it was better to cast a woman. Glyn was happy to adapt the storyy.