Monday, February 22, 2010

More Clara Bow...

This weekend I watched 2 more Clara Bow silents I had never seen before and so I will gladly use that as an excuse to plaster her all over my blog again!

Last night I watched "My Lady of Whims" a film she did on loan out to Arrow Studio in 1925, just one of 14 films she made in that year alone! Her leading man was Donald Keith who would also star with her in "The Plastic Age". The film is as almost totally devoid of anything resembling a plot or story and leading man Keith is as bland as bland bland bland, but Clara is so dazzlingly gorgeous and once again literally bouncing off the walls with youthful energy that who even cares about all that other stuff! I've always loved this pic of her and never knew where it was from, but it's the costume party scene, which is indeed the high point of the picture! This same pic appears on the cover of a new Peter Kobel book on silent movies I just recently got called, appropriately enough, "Silent Movies".

"If Clara Bow ever makes the picture she can make, then you will see how great screen acting can be". - Joseph Von Sternberg

Clara was under contract to B.P. Schulberg at that time and was getting $750 a week plus he provided her wardrobe, but he would loan her out to other studios for over $3,000 a week! He would continue to exploit Clara right until the end of her days at Paramount.

"You couldnt steal a scene from Clara Bow. Nobody could. She doesnt 'mug' the camera, never that. She just naturally walks away with every scene she's in. She's marvelous. She has everything". - Gary Cooper

The other film I watched was "Free to Love", another from 1925 and yet another teaming her with bland Donald Keith (I cant get away from that guy!) The film was pretty much a straight drama with some seedy underworld types and Clara did get to play a different woman than her usual flapper character so it was fun to see that but the film as a whole is pretty shoddy. Apparently it was shot in 2 weeks and believe me it showed.

"A temperment that responded like a great violin. Touch her and she answered with genius" - Victor Fleming

Clara's biggest movie of 1925 was the aforementioned "The Plastic Age" and the success of that film was what got her and Schulberg (and that blasted Donald Keith!) over to Paramount where within the next 2 years she would become the biggest box office star in Hollywood. She was 22 years old at the time!

"She was the biggest star, the biggest moneymaker in Hollywood - above Garbo, above them all. I was fascinated with her". - Louise Brooks

I started thumbing through David Stenn's bio of Clara, "Runnin' Wild", about a week ago but ended up starting at the beginning and reading the whole thing for a second time. I'm about half through it now. Good book, a fascinating and ultimately, sad story of an enormously gifted, wholly unpretentious but scared little girl who just wanted to be loved.

"She could cry at the drop of a hat and you'd believe her!
A beautiful actress, just beautiful" - prop man William Kaplan


Kerrie said...

Clara Bow, I must confess you have just educated me about her.
What a beauty she was. x

Anonymous said...

I LOVE that first picture! What a beautiful lady!

Margaret Benbow said...

This is a fine tribute, Artman. She was such a good, sensitive actress, and never really got the respectful attention she deserved. Maybe she will now, as DVD's gradually make her more obscure films available.

Artman2112 said...

kerrie - glad to introduce you to her!

Brightestblue - no arguement from me on that!

margaret - in the 1960's Kevin Brownlow published a book on silent films and her name wasn't mentioned ONCE in the entire book! (Louise Brooks pointed out this gross oversight in an article she wrote a bit later)
thankfully, things are changing and Clara seems to be taking her rightful place among the best actresses and biggest stars of the silent era.

Avalon76 said...

I wrote a poem about Clara on my blog, Silent Stanzas:

She is my muse and inspiration. Keep posting about Clara and keep her memory alive! ^_^