Clara Bow’s Movies 3

Clara Bow’s fifth movie was Grit, a silent drama produced in the summer of 1923 in New York, and released on January 7, 1924. Adapted from a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Grit featured Clara as a sexy street urchin, Orchid McGonigle.

Clara impressed director Frank Tuttle, especially with her ability to produce emotion at will. He said, “This dynamic and erratic whirlwind was a joy to her director.”

Grit was a tale of cowardice and revenge set on New York’s Lower East Side. Fitzgerald said of the film, “The whole picture is sordid, showing disgusting scenes of immorality and crime.” The censors demanded cuts, and they were duly made. Despite those cuts, Grit was still banned by the British Board of Film Censors.

Clara saw Orchid as the embodiment of herself. “A little roughneck and a tomboy like I was.” The critics panned the film. However, Variety added, “It is Clara Bow that lingers in the eye after the picture has gone.”

Clara Bow’s sixth movie was Maytime, a silent romantic drama produced during August and September 1923 and released on December 11, 1923. The movie starred Ethel Shannon, Harrison Ford and William Norris, with Clara fourth on the bill playing Alice Tremaine. 

After a stunning screen test, producer B.P. Schulberg gave Clara the part of Alice in Maytime. Within a week, the film’s crew were urging Schulberg to ditch Ethel Shannon and give Clara the lead role. He didn’t. Nevertheless, Clara had made her point and established her breakthrough.

Clara Bow and Ethel Shannon in Maytime.

1920s – 1960s