"It" (1927) on SD-DVD -- A Tale of Old Hollywood!

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"It:  The Milestone Collection" (1927), SD-DVD.  An Image Entertainment release from 2004.

Video on this one is 480i/60 (NOT suitable for conversion to /24), Black & White, presented in its original, 4:3 Aspect Ratio.  This is a Silent Film.  It is accompanied on this disc by a modern orchestral score, presented in DD 2.0 48kHz.

Extras include a VERY enjoyable and informative Film Historian's Commentary by Jeanine Basinger of Wesleyan University.  There is also a short, auto advance slide show of posters and production stills.

(I did not try to access this, but there's also a "making of" interview with Director Clarence Badger to be found on this disc as a computer, DVD-ROM feature.)


Cyrus Waltham, Jr., scion of the wealthy Waltham family (Antonio Moreno), has temporarily taken charge of Waltham's -- "The World's Largest Store" -- while his father vacations.  As the handsome, young Cyrus tours the store with his managers, the various shop girls look on with keen interest:

Shop Girl (an Extra) to another Shop Girl, Betty Lou (Clara Bow):  "Hot socks -- the new boss!"


How much is a word worth?  In the case of "It", the answer is $50,000, and that in 1920s dollars!  That's how much Paramount Studios paid to "Madame" Elinor Glyn, to use her clever idea of giving polite society a way to talk about sex appeal:  By assigning it an innocuous name!

Glyn, described in the Film Historian's Commentary track as, "A hack writer for Cosmopolitan Magazine", also got a cameo appearance out of the deal; portraying herself in the film.  Cosmo also got some "product placement" in the film -- before that concept had even been invented!

By 1927, Clara Bow was already reaching the height of her silent screen stardom, as the cute "modern girl" who could fend for herself, and have fun doing it!

Glyn had, by this point, propounded ONLY FOUR Hollywood figures had "It", and Clara Bow was the only female among them.  Another was her co-star in this film, Antonio Moreno.  The third was the doorman at the Ambassador Hotel, and the fourth, and I kid you not, was a horse!  But almost overnight, the world utterly forgot Glyn had ever even mentioned the other three.  Clara Bow was now and always, the one and only, "It Girl".

And this film -- certainly her most popular -- cemented that for all time.  It was a box office smash, and remains a thoroughly enjoyable light comedy even today.  Even the elements of Victorian melodrama work well.  It's just a flat-out fun film from end to end.

It is also, most definitely, a pre-Code film -- clearly evident in the scene where Betty Lou is shown getting dressed to go out:  Applying body power, and slipping into her underthings while showing a good deal of leg!  Yes, even by today's standards, Clara Bow certainly had "It" -- and knew how to flaunt "It"!

HISTORICAL NOTE:  Scenes like this would have given local Censors conniption fits!   Usually resulting in badly butchered editing for the local theater.  Once Hollywood adopted the Motion Picture Production Code just a few years later (in an effort to fend off threatened, Congressional action) scenes like this would never even have been shot!

This 2004, SD-DVD presentation comes with a modern orchestral score by Carl Davis which does a superb job matching the light and frothy mood.  It also comes with a VERY enjoyable and informative Film Historian's Commentary by Jeanine Basinger of Wesleyan University.  There is also a short, auto advance slide show of posters and production stills.

The AQ for the orchestral score is really excellent.  I recommend you play it in a Stereo configuration.

The PQ for the feature is only OK.  There's no particular problem with Image Entertainment's SD-DVD transfer, but the film elements used exhibit persistent damage -- from light speckles at best to whole frames obscured at worst.  The image is well locked in the frame, detail is OK, gray scale is consistent (if not impressive), and there are no unexpected cuts.  So the picture is certainly watchable once you get used to the level of damage.  But it ain't going to win any awards for restoration!

Here's a fine example of a TERRIFIC film which will likely NEVER make it to Blu-ray disc (much less UHD) due to the limited  quality of the surviving film elements.

RESTORATION NOTE:  This film was considered lost for decades, but a single, nitrate copy was found in Prague in the 1960s, and that's almost certainly the basis for this transfer.  In the restoration game, you work with what you've got!

Above all, this is simply a WELL MADE film, produced at the very peak of the Silent Era, just before talkies changed everything.  See "It" and you'll instantly appreciate how 1920s audiences could find silent films so entertaining!