"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 toughon 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 penIt Happened One Nightplus 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 sternobserver 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, Moore would be most-remembered 20's darling.
Some of her silents, most of which tried to reignite Flaming Youth spark, have
turned up lately, at least one, Why Be Good?on DVD, and indeed very good.
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 Moore, as how many jazz babies
are here at all? (some lesser names don't have a sample extant) It
was fun to read Flaming Youth and then fill in blanks of the LoC reel,
like reading hieroglyphics before examining mummies. What a pity so
many of these old films are gone, but withmore popping up all the time
(Internet, thus better/wider communication, a big assist in that), who knows but what Flaming
Youth, at least reels of it, may surface. In the meantime, there's still
the book, all over E-Bay and Amazon marketplace, thanks to 20's folk sneaking
reads when best books were those that sent thermometers highest.