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FRANK BORZAGE

Discussion of the actors, directors and film-makers who 'made it all happen'

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JackFavell
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby JackFavell » October 10th, 2012, 3:15 pm

It was my first time watching too, and I thought it was an amazing film. The way the relationship is played out so slowly, and the contrast of these two with all those around them really made for a wonderful film. I found the mother most interesting, how awful I thought she was at the beginning, but she turned out to have her reasons.

Janet Gaynor is really an incredible actress. I don't think she gets any credit nowadays. I actually believe she could play anything, she is always 'there' in the scene no matter what she has to work with. She constantly surprises me and I like her every time I see her. Has she ever been SOTM? This first Oscar winner really should be.

Charles Farrell, well what can I say? Everything written here is true. He was just great, so totally NOT a victim of circumstance, until he let himself be - isn't that how we all are? And this is what I like best about Borzage's films, his message that we can do anything, as long as we believe in love and ourselves and do what's in our hearts. As for the corn factor, it literally didn't matter, thanks to the above and beyond direction and performances, very sensitive and completely believable. This is pretty much a perfect movie as far as I am concerned.

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby charliechaplinfan » October 11th, 2012, 5:45 am

Charles Farrell has never been rated as a great actor but his performances in Seventh Heaven, Lucky Star, The River and City Girl have moved me greatly, they are all quite similar types, big, innocent, pure types who have so much love to give and often their own hurdles to overcome. I'm guessing he passed away thinking that these movies were lost forever and not realising that people who rediscover these performances and enjoy them all over again. Janet Gaynor has gone on to achieve a higher standing in the terms of the acting she did with Charlie and afterwards but she was a more driven person, Charlie enjoyed acting but he enjoyed playing tennis just as much.

I agree with you Bob about the quality of the late silents, the best are often beautiful to behold and as good as anything that has come afterwards. Silent film making had evolved into an art form that took pride in it's cinematography as well as casting and script. It might have been a time of the first movie stars and the establishment of the studios and their publicity machines but it was also the time of some great directors, like Murnau, Sjostrom, Vidor and Borzage to name a few who seemed to spur one another on.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby feaito » October 11th, 2012, 8:41 am

charliechaplinfan wrote:Charles Farrell has never been rated as a great actor but his performances in Seventh Heaven, Lucky Star, The River and City Girl have moved me greatly, they are all quite similar types, big, innocent, pure types who have so much love to give and often their own hurdles to overcome. I'm guessing he passed away thinking that these movies were lost forever and not realising that people who rediscover these performances and enjoy them all over again. Janet Gaynor has gone on to achieve a higher standing in the terms of the acting she did with Charlie and afterwards but she was a more driven person, Charlie enjoyed acting but he enjoyed playing tennis just as much.

I agree with you Bob about the quality of the late silents, the best are often beautiful to behold and as good as anything that has come afterwards. Silent film making had evolved into an art form that took pride in it's cinematography as well as casting and script. It might have been a time of the first movie stars and the establishment of the studios and their publicity machines but it was also the time of some great directors, like Murnau, Sjostrom, Vidor and Borzage to name a few who seemed to spur one another on.


Ditto Alison! I'd add "Street Girl" and "Liliom"...I'm thinking seriously in buying the pricey Borzage-Murnau Collection, although I have most of those films on DVD-R and in spite the lackluster reviews concerning the Set's packaging....Besides, I am realizing that nowadays most worthwhile films are being released on made-to-order DVD-R format (Columbias, Paramounts, MGMs, RKOs, WBs and Fox, by the companies which owns their rights: Sony, Universal, Time Warner, 20th Century Fox, some of them through TCM or "Archive" Collections) ....so all the extant pressed DVD releases will be a treasure in years to come.

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JackFavell
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby JackFavell » October 11th, 2012, 11:15 am

I think that Gaynor and Farrell are very intuitive actors, the story doesn't play out in words, but in slight variations of looks on their faces, a slow changing. It's like they feel one another, emotionally, rather than exchanging lines, and that is the biggest part of acting. It was probably a better learning experience coming up in the silent era, to be a good actor or director. Most of who we consider great classic film directors had a background in silent film

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby charliechaplinfan » October 11th, 2012, 3:05 pm

I like Street Girl and Liliom too, although Boyer's Liliom was more believable, I can't see Charles Farrell as bad but he does a decent enough job with it and the sets are lovely.

Gaynor and Farrell are very intuitive actors, there is a good book about them called Lucky Stars, I hadn't realised how close they were, I thought it was studio publicity working overtime but they were incredibly close. Farrell works really well with Mary Duncan although she's far more of a girl who's been around the block a couple of times whereas Gaynor always looks so innocent, I couldn't imagine anyone but her in Sunrise, her portrayal is key to making the whole film work.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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JackFavell
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby JackFavell » October 11th, 2012, 3:15 pm

I agree about Gaynor in Sunrise. It's really really hard to make a good girl interesting, but Gaynor always did. She had IT, not sexiness exactly, though she could be, but I mean something that just compels you to watch her. Her reactions are always stunning.

Farrell and Gaynor remind me a little of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald in their private lives. I may be way off on that but it's just how I feel. Romance put off, or thwarted due to a few character flaws that these ladies couldn't quite deal with, causing a lot of heartache for the gentlemen involved. Tell me if I'm completely wrong in this.

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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby moira finnie » October 11th, 2012, 4:42 pm

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I loved Lucky Star and am trying to find all the words I want to apply to this enchanting movie. I think it is now my favorite Borzage. l wish I could afford the Murnau, Borzage and Ford DVD set, but thank goodness TCM ran this at last. I was puzzled to discover that so few people understood that the film was not a completely realistic depiction of a wounded veteran's trials and recovery, but is meant to be taken metaphorically as an evocation of the power of love to transform perception.

I do not think that Janet Gaynor or Charles Farrell were actors with a broad range or even much technique, but the director allowed their gentle naturalism in this film to blend into something purely erotic, emotional and spiritual. If only Borzage could have found a way to keep making silent movies after this movie.

My DVR cut off the end of the conversation between Ben Mankiewicz and Lawrence Carter-Long. From what I read on the TCM message board they were critiquing the film for its lack of realism. Is that correct?
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JackFavell
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby JackFavell » October 11th, 2012, 5:27 pm

They joked around about the unrealistic ending (Ben should know better than to joke about movies, lol), and how the perception of people at that time was that the only way Tim and Mary could be happy is through full recovery. They noted that nowadays we are more comfortable with disabilities and that a positive outcome doesn't always have to end with the main character completely overcoming his physical disability. They felt that it was reflective of that time, when it seemed that disability meant 'the end' of everything.

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby charliechaplinfan » October 12th, 2012, 7:21 am

I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as I did Moira, I felt very much the same when I saw it for the first time. Mary is a bit of a departure for Janet Gaynor, I'd only seen her play good, sweet, wholesome girls before this and her tomboy is a real joy to behold. It's a beautiful, uplifting film, perhaps people at the time thought it was taking lightly the problems of returning servicemen who had been terribly injured but it plays well today. It's true, he didn't have to walk for her for her to love him but it certainly gives us a cliff hanger and an image to remember.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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pvitari
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby pvitari » October 12th, 2012, 10:01 am

Charliechaplinfan, you need to see the Farrell-Gaynor talkie (directed by Raoul Walsh) The Man Who Came Back.

Janet plays a girl who falls in love with Charlie (of course) but when she thinks he abandons her (actually he's shanghaied), she follows him to China and becomes a slatternly opium addict! Charlie, now a drunk, wanders into the opium den looking for a snort and to his shock discovers his former beloved in a ratty dressing gown and with a smirk on her face. This sounds risible, but they're both pretty good (actually Farrell is VERY good in this scene).

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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby feaito » October 12th, 2012, 11:18 am

Ever since I read about TMWCB in Vieira's "Sin in Soft Focus" I have wanted to see it Paula. Is it available on the market? Or in youtube?

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Robert Regan
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby Robert Regan » October 12th, 2012, 11:08 pm

In spite of the purity and the niceness that she projected, Gaynor's characters had sold their bodies in both The Man Who Came Back and Seventh Heaven. She tries in Street Angel, but is not very good at it.

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pvitari
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby pvitari » October 13th, 2012, 12:09 am

Feaito, I don't know of any commercial DVD of The Man Who Came Back -- it's not even on youtube. Fox is sitting on (I think) eight talkies that Farrell and Gaynor made together in the early 30s, a couple of which I've seen and the rest I'd give a body part to see. ;) The good news is that Change of Heart has just been released as part of the Fox Cinema Archive. Delicious and Sunny Side Up show up sometimes on TCM. I really don't know why Sunny Side Up isn't on DVD -- it's been restored, looks great, and is a really enjoyable film. It was the unexpected hit of the first TCM Classic Film Festival. But I guess they just don't want to spend the money to make a new transfer. (The one we see on TCM is definitely not the restored version -- it's probably the same transfer as the old VHS tape.)

I did find a *cough* unofficial DVD of The Man Who Came Back at ioffer.com but the picture quality is awful, as you saw from those two screencaps I posted.

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JackFavell
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby JackFavell » October 13th, 2012, 8:28 am

Sunny Side Up has shown up on youtube once in a while too, as well as Daddy Long Legs, which isn't Borzage but is Janet Gaynor.

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charliechaplinfan
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby charliechaplinfan » October 13th, 2012, 2:37 pm

I've wanted to see The Man Who Came Back for the longest time, the whole premise of the movie intrigues me. Maybe one day they'll release it, but thanks for the screen caps Paula :D
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin


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