This month, you can head to the cinema to see It, the new Stephen King adaptation about a killer clown who hangs out in the sewers and singlehandedly brings more death to small-town Maine than all twelve seasons of Murder, She Wrote. The publicity machine for this horror film has been inescapable, plastering billboards with red balloons and leering faces. It seems like everyone has jumped on the terrifying bandwagon.
If child-killing clowns aren’t your thing, however, you don’t have to feel left out. There’s another It that you can watch for free on Youtube. And this It involves significantly less murder. 1927’s It is a romantic comedy about a quirky shopgirl who falls in love with her boss. Here are the five reasons why this It might be a better fit for your viewing pleasure.
5 More star power
No offense to Bill Skarsgard, who seems like a perfectly fine actor and a believable clown monster, but 1927’s It is built around star quality. It is all about “it,” the ineffable quality that draws everyone’s attention. There’s a reason Clara Bow is forever known as the “It Girl.” She has “it.” From the first moment we see her, when her shopgirl character’s smiling face fills the screen, we know that she’s a movie star. Her handsome boss Antonio Moreno knows it. Her sick best friend Priscilla Bonner knows it. And the world knows it, too. Clara Bow was one of the first real movie stars, and this film shows us why.
4 More romance
There might be a bit of preteen romance in this year’s It, but if so, that will certainly take a back-seat to all the suspense and dread. With the silent film, romance is front-and-center. It opens with the hero and heroine meeting at work, it detours through a few complications, it pauses for a first-date montage at a carnival, and it ends with a kiss. This is a surprisingly modern romantic plot, one that never tries to frighten anyone. Sure, there’s a subplot where a group of busybody welfare workers try to take a woman’s baby, but no one dies in the process.
3 More whimsy
Toward the beginning of the silent film, Clara Bow is invited to have dinner at the Ritz. As a poor shopgirl with a limited wardrobe, she doesn’t have the clothes for the event. With her roommate watching, Bow simply takes a pair of scissors and then starts cutting away at the dress that she’s currently wearing. She adds a few scraps of extra fabric here and there, and voila! She has the perfect outfit.
It’s one of those adorable moments that you’d expect Zooey Deschanel to do on her sitcom New Girl. It’s whimsical. It’s cute. It’s the sort of borderline-crazy thing that only works in a rom-com. This is just one of the examples of outright whimsy in a film full of them. This year’s horror film? Not very whimsical.
2 More comedy
The jury is still out on whether the Stephen King film will have any sense of humor. It might throw in a bit of little kid banter ala Stranger Things, or even some actual one-liners from the murderous clown. Who knows?
That said, 2017’s It probably won’t be as funny as 1927’s It. This movie has physical comedy in every scene, mostly from the loose-limbed Bow, but also from the campy best friend William Austin. Even the title cards make room for cleverness, as when the personality-free “other woman” is introduced with this: “Every evening, in America, eighteen million blondes prepare to dine with gentlemen. One of the eighteen million—” Cut to the generic other woman combing her hair.
1 A happier ending
By the director’s own admission, 2017’s It is an adaptation of the first half of Stephen King’s thousand-page novel. If this one does well, then watch out for It Part Two as it floats into a theater near you. What this tells us, aside from the fact that it must be hard to adapt a thousand pages into one film, is that this movie probably isn’t going to have a complete and happy ending.
The 1927 film, though, ends on one of the perfect movie make-out sessions. Our hero and heroine, dripping wet and clinging to the side of a yacht, finally allow themselves to kiss. It’s an electric, feel-good moment, and—one can assume—a much different ending than what the killer clown movie will deliver.
In general, most movie audiences will know which film is more their taste. Some people like cringing at gory murder scenes, and some like swooning over attractive couples falling in love. There’s room for both. The point is: perhaps you should give the 1927 movie a try. At the very least, you can tell your friends, “Yes. I saw It, and I wasn’t scared at all.”