August 21, 2010

"Three Weekends" with Clara Bow

Three Weekends (1928)

To get the weekend off to a spirited start, we give you Clara Bow in Three Weekends (1928), her final film of the silent era.

The title for Three Weekends (aka Three Week Ends) was derivative of the scandalous Elinor Glyn novel Three Weeks which had been adapted for film in 1924.  The provocative writer Glyn was often paired with Bow, most famously with It (1927), a screen adaptation of Glyn's novel in which Bow played Betty Lou Spence, better know today as The It Girl. 

Three Weekends is representative of Paramount's Clara Bow vehicles.  These comedies, such as It, Red Hair (1928), and Get Your Man (1927) each faithfully stuck to the proven formula of which came to be mockingly described as  "Bow plus Glyn equals underwear."

In his book Clara Bow: Runnin' Wild, biographer David Stenn describes the film's critical reception:

Clara Bow in Red Hair (1928)
"Though Clara approached her role in Three Weekends with characteristic gusto and professionalism, she could not save a plot as skimpy as the wardrobe.  Influential film critic Richard Watts, Jr., denounced the insipid formula for her films, charging that 'because Miss Bow has had the misfortune to be labeled the 'It' Girl, she must be a sort of Northwest Mounted Policeman of sex, who gets her man even if she has to bludgeon him.  The result is a series of films in which a particularly engaging star gets coy and elfin all over the landscape, battering down the resistance of some man who, for some unaccountable reason, is cold to her loveliness.  The formula is particularly annoying when applied to one of the most pleasing stars of the cinema.'"

Then, like today, box office results often failed to coincide with the artistic quality.  Though it may have been only a repeat of a worn out formula, Three Weekends was successful at the box office, generating approximately the same profits as Bow's earlier comedies.

What would we think of the film today?  Undoubtedly Bow sparkles on the screen despite the formulaic plot line.  Tragically, it's unlikely that we'll ever have the opportunity to judge for ourselves.  Like so many films from the era, Thee Weekends is considered to be a lost film and no prints are known to exist.

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