THE SILENT TREATMENT: Clara Bow in "Mantrap"

According to Clara Bow, the Twenties’ “It” girl herself: “the best silent picture I ever made”. Proving she wasn’t just a pair of bare ankles, the then-20-year-old took it upon herself to upgrade her scripted Mantrap character Alverna from boring and drab to a flirtatious minx. Clara foregrounds a delicious love triangle amongst a charming number of classic L.A. palm trees in what director Victor Fleming (The Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind) stages as the backwoods of Canada. The silent era provided one of our culture’s first forums for female sexual empowerment — and Clara’s effortless embodiment of emancipated eroticism here makes Mantrap the vehicle for her fantastic breakthrough performance.
Dir. Victor Fleming, 1926, 35mm, 86 min. (Archival print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive)