Scorcher On For 1923
"Hot" novels were once the thing. As late as early 70's, they'd be snuck into schools and hidden from parents. I remember The Carpetbaggers and certain pages from The Godfather ... but what's left to shock us now? Nothing, it seems, and that's got to be tough on writers and publishers. During the 20's, there were all sorts of barriers to leap. Dubious talent like Elinor Glyn could rise like a phoenix to both print and film-adapt glory. Hers got tongues clucking, plus teens reading. Has even the woman who wrote Harry Potter known such fame as Glyn? So what if posterity dealt harsh? --- junk writers had their fun while here, and for most, that's truest measure of success. Ripe fruit for its day was Flaming Youth, first (of nineteen in a mere eighteen months) printing in 1923, and written by Samuel Hopkins Adams, who'd later pen It Happened One Night plus others made into popular films. Flaming Youth wasn't outright erotica, but dealt "frankly" with sex issues that saw girls give in to urge awakened by jazz and bootleg hootch. That it became a movie was inevitable, but would Colleen Moore indulge as did her literary forebear?
"Pat" is the character's name, underage in opener chapters, but pawed nonetheless by men and boys. Her mother is a libertine who dies early, Dad distant and keeping mistresses. The book is probably accurate as to life among the pampered, Hopkins a stern observer of social abuses (he exposed, for newspapers, public health scandals and phony medicines). "Warner Fabian" was his nom de plume for Flaming Youth and a couple other sizzlers he penned when at rest from crusading. The movie of Flaming Youth, produced in 1923 (no time wasted between book and film) would establish Colleen Moore as flapper divine, the title itself synonymous with her. Had not Clara Bow come along to seize the belt,
Flaming Youth goes largely missing, sad to say, a single reel all that survives, and housed at the Library Of Congress. That's on You Tube, giving glimpse of the whole. Some of what was noted at the time is here, including a wild party and skinny-dip scene. Colleen Moore was appealing but not so sexy as Clara Bow. Still, I'd give much to have more of