Clara Bow

Over on the Spank Statement, Valdor recently commented that Clara Bow was a prime candidate for a screen spanking, and it seems that the thought crossed a mind or two back in the flapper era that was her heyday. An article about her in the October 1930 issue of Photoplay commented that:

Clara, at the age of twenty-five, doesn’t seem to have learned a thing about governing her life.

Still behaving like a headstrong high school girl with forbidden ‘dates’ and wild crushes – still pouting when told to be at home by eleven or taste the hard side of pappy’s hairbrush!

And just to be sure we know the girl we’re talking about, here’s Clara:

Clara Bow Savage

One thing I like about this picture is that it transcends period. When we look at a vintage still of a beautiful woman, we often see the vintage more than we see the woman: our eye is drawn by the hair and makeup styles of the time and we miss the essential humanity of the subject. But not here.

It’s a photo of Clara in one of her last pictures, Call Her Savage (1932), in which she plays the wilful daughter of a Texas ranger…

clara bow call her savage

… but regrettably doesn’t get spanked, by pappy the ranger or anyone else!

But only a week or so after that Photoplay edition hit the newsstands, on September 28, 1930, Her Wedding Night was released:

Clara Bow HWN poster

Clara plays Norma Martin, an American film actress on vacation in France who accidentally gets married through a process of mistaken identity. And in the course of the movie, this happens:

Clara Bow Her Wedding Night

Now, that is clearly not a formal OTK spanking such as we would prefer to have seen. In fact, there’s a question mark over whether it is actually a spanking at all. Here’s another photo from the scene:

Clara Bow HWNa

So Clara is on the massage table, which might well mean a few whacks on the rear from the masseuse. But was it, strictly speaking, any more of a spanking than was the Adam’s Rib massage scene between Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn?

At least that’s something we may eventually find out. Unlike many another film of its era, there is a print of Her Wedding Night still in existence, at the UCLA Film Archive, and it was restored in the late 1990s. Perhaps one day it will be made available, and we will learn the truth: was the masseuse just doing her job, or was she giving Clara the spanking that common opinion, then and now, believed she richly deserved?

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