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Posted: January 5th, 2010, 2:45 pm
by charliechaplinfan
I wanted to start a thread dedicated to Frank Borzage and his work. Between 1927 and 1961 he directed many classic movies. He started work as a director in 1913, here is a link to include everything he ever directed

Here's his films dating from 1927 onwards. For anyone interested in the Murnau/Borzage at Fox box set, here is a link to a thread on the silent forum. ... f=4&t=3877

Seventh Heaven 1927
Street Angel 1927
Lucky Star 1929
They Had To See Paris 1929
The River 1929
Song O My Heart 1930
Liliom 1930
Doctor's Wives 1931
Young as You Feel 1931
Bad Girl 1931
After Tomorrow 1932
Young America 1932
A Farewell To Arms 1932
Secrets 1933
Man's Castle 1933
No Greater Glory 1934
Little Man What Now? 1934
Flirtation Walk 1934
Living on Velvet 1935
Stranded 1935
Shipmates Forever 1935
Desire 1936
Hearts Divided 1936
Green Light 1937
History is Made at Night 1937
Big City 1937
Mannequin 1937
Three Comrades 1938
This Shining Hour 1938
Disputed Package 1939
I Take this Woman 1940
Strange Cargo 1940
The Mortal Storm 1940
Flight Command 1941
Billy the Kid 1941
Smilin' Through 1941
The Vanishing Virginian 1942
Seven Sweethearts 1942
Stage Door Canteen 1943
His Butler's Sister 1943
Till We Meet Again 1944
The Spanish Main 1945
Magnificient Doll 1946
I've Always Loved You 1946
That's My Man 1947
Moonrise 1948
China Doll 1958
The Big Fisherman 1959

It took me a long time to realise that Borzage had directed so many classics. He doesn't feature prominently in biographys of other Hollywood names, partly I think because he didn't court publicity.

I don't think anyone does romance quite like him, he can create love stories in the most unlikely places, a shanty town, the slums of Paris and lifts them out of their surroundings into a rarified air of those experiencing, true and all conquering and possessing love. He was Hollywood's romantic.

There is a marvellous book by Herve Dumont that goes into detail about Borzage's films and methods. I'm only up to 1927 but I shot ahead of myself and watched Farewell to Arms, reasoning that I'd read the novel so I was allowed to jump forward. Rarely do I find myself holding my breathe and hadn't realised it would be so moving, I don't remember the novel being this good :D .

Before I say how wonderful Borzage is in directing this movie I have to admit that I can take or leave Gary Cooper apart from in his early films when I think he's so breathtakingly handsome. It's his earlier films I prefer, partly because of his looks but mainly because of the men he portrays and Lieutnant Frederic is incredibly subtle and romantic. I didn't think the casting would work with Helen Hayes but they are superb together, something in the chemistry of the film really make them a great screen coupling. If there is any flaw it is Helen Hayes who is sometimes just a little too cool for me.

Helen Hayes plays Catherine Barkely a nurse , we first see her eavesdropping on a nurse who has got pregnant and is being shipped back home, each of the nurses have their own view on the situation but Catherine is generous and understanding. Next we are introduced to Lt. Frederic Henry an American who has enrolled in the Italian ambulance service he is back from the front for a bit of R&R, on his first night out he gets drunk and in the middle of an air raid mistakes Catherine for a woman he'd been chatting to before the alarm was raised. The next night out with his Italian friend Major Rinaldi he has a double date, Rinaldi's date is Catherine but they soon switch and they disappear into the night. What follows is that she gives herself to him, he's going to be gone in the morning, Borzage directs it so subtly, it's very charged, emotional and for the time erotic, Helen Hayes and Gary Cooper are superb playing their roles.

The next day the Lt returns after leaving for the front to tell Catherine 'that he couldn't just go away, last night meant something' (now I'll be a Cooper fan forever) they are in full view of everyone in the hospital when he says that, he couldn't possibly have said it any better, she gives him a medal to keep him safe. The Lt returns to the front and is injured, he goes to hospital and Catherine is there to nurse him, they have to keep their relationship secret but they do confess it to the Lts padre friend who conducts a marriage ceremony under his breath to bless them. Again this scene is so beautiful.

When the Lt gets better he is off again but they do have a chance to spend a bit of time together before he goes. Their parting, she crouches at his feet and he slowly departs. Once he's gone she leaves and goes to Switzerland and stays in the closest place to the Italian border to have her baby, the Lt knows nothing of the baby. Whlist the Lt is at the front his well meaning friend Major Rinildi sends back his post from Catherine, not realising their depth of feeling for one another. Not hearing from Catherine the Lt goes AWOL to track her down, the major finally tells him where she is. When the Lt gets to her she has lost the baby and is losing her fight for life, she won't let him know of course and their final parting had my eyes wet with tears. Her death comes with the armistice and as she dies, peace finally falls over Europe. The final scene is very famous, Cooper picks Hayes up off the bed and holds her in his arms with his back to the camera as the light floods in through the window.

In casting Hayes and Cooper, he cast another tall man with a small framed woman, I don't know if this was a Borzage standard, I'm thinking Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor, it works very well when he does use it.


Posted: January 5th, 2010, 9:11 pm
by silentscreen
I think one reason Frank was so good at romantic films is that it was what he wanted in his life. He really believed that love overcame all. Nice review Alison!


Posted: January 6th, 2010, 9:23 am
by charliechaplinfan
I watched Lucky Star last night, that was so romantic too. I'll leave a review later, the impression of both movies have lasted with me today putting me in a brilliant mood all day, despite the snow.


Posted: January 6th, 2010, 5:50 pm
by MissGoddess
Your reviews have been wonderful reading, CCFan, and I thank you for taking the time to write them for us. I've always been a big fan of Borzage's limpidly romantic films. His gentle soul shines through most of them.


Posted: January 7th, 2010, 5:33 am
by charliechaplinfan
Thanks, I know I just can't do them the justice that Borzage intended, they are so meaningful on so many levels. Here are reviews I left on the silent forum about his silent movies

Seventh Heaven

The shooting of Sunrise was meant to finish on the 20th January 1927 and Seventh Heaven started filming on January 24th 1927 but Sunrise finally ended on March 12th necessitating working on Seventh Heaven at night. Some of the sets from Sunrise were used for Seventh Heaven.

Seventh Heaven is set in Monmartre at the start of the first world war. Chico (Charles Farrell) works in the sewers of Paris, his dream is to work as a street cleaner, he is in his own words 'A very remarkable fellow'. Diane (Janet Gaynor)is orphaned lives with her older sister, Nana (Gladys Brockwell) in a very shabby room, Nana beats Diane regularly, the sisters ocassionally steal or resort to prostitution to put food on the table and absinthe in Nana's belly. As the flim opens Diane has been beaten and goes to a bar to meet the fence and to get absinthe to take home to Nana. Whilst Diane is gone Nana receives a visit from the priest who tells Nana that their uncle is returning from the South Seas and will take care of them upon his return. The scenes in the apartment are reminiscient of Murnau with dark shadows falling. The next day Uncle appears with his wife, his wife moved to tears by Diane, who is too scared to look at her, Uncle is a clean living person and asks the girls if they have been clean and decent. Nana tells him of course they have and twists Diane's arm behind her back to get Diane to say the words but she can't, she gives the game away. Uncle turns disgusted, throws some notes on the floor and leaves with his wife. Nana takes her whip and whips and chases Diane out into the street, a tracking shot follows them out, Nana beating and beating her in such a rage, Diane collapses by Chico's sewer and only by Chico climbing out of the sewer did Diane manage to escape with her life. Chico takes Nana and dangles her over the sewer, seeing Chico is serious, Nana runs away.

Diane is passed out by the sewer, unaware she has been rescued. Chico sits down to have a bite to eat with his friends next to the sewer. He glances at Diane, saying she would be better off dead, then thinks differently and rubs an onion under her nose, this brings her round. She gazes at him in wonder, propped up by a wheel. Chico tells her she is afraid of the world but he's not, he's a remarkable fellow. He returns to his friends and complains about the 'Bon Dieu' letting Diane suffer, he's spent 10 francs on God in his life, 5 for a job as a streetcleaner and 5 for a nice blonde wife, he has received neither. The priest passing overhears his conversation and amused, gives him two religious medals and a job as a streetcleaner. Whilst this is going on Diane reaches for Chico's knife that he has left lying on the ground as she raises it to kill herself, Chico stops her and berates her because she was using his knife. She tells him she cannot live without hope and he tries to life her spirits, the police pass by rounding up women including Nana, Nana tells the police that Diane is not better than her and the police move to arrest Diane but Chico stops the police by saying that Diane is his wife. The police pass by but promise to check his story, Chico can't believe that he has put his new job on the line. Diane suggests she movies to his place until the police have finished their enquiries. Chico agrees and as he stands up Diane is crouched at his knees, she kisses his hand and raises her face, she appears transfigured. Chico and Diane are taken to Chico's lodgings in a friends taxi.

The next scene is very famous, the couple must climb to the seventh storey, Borzage had two staircases built of three and four levels and the camera dollys up capturing the couple climbing up the stairs towards heaven. Chico's attic rooms are filmed with softer lights, symbolising the romantic nature of the apartment. Diane is openmouthed in wonder, claiming it is heaven. Not bad for a sewer worker he may work under ground but he lives near the heavens. Diane stands watching Chico by the window, like a child, trusting and nervous but not sure of what is happening to her. Chico goes over a plank seven storeys up to go to a neighbouring apartment, he tries to get Diane to follow him 'Don't look down' he says to her but she is scared. The plank was actually three storeys up, Janet Gaynor says that it was only a plank and a long way down. Whilst Chico is gone Diane undresses and gets under the covers, there is something very moving about Diane undressing in Chico's apartment. Chico returns with a nightdress for her, necessitating her to get out of bed and put the nightdress whilst he is out of the room. The scenes are so touching, Diane does not know how to act properly in Chico's apartment but knowing this is kindness like she has never known. When Chico returns she watches him getting undressed and washed, he comes over to the bed and she pretends to be asleep and he takes a pillow and cover and sleeps on the balcony.

The next morning, Diane busies herself making breakfast and coffee for Chico, it his first day on his new job and his coworker comes to take him to work. He asks Chico why he isn't kissing his wife before he goes to work. Chico decides he should and gives Diane a peck, telling her she can't stay after the police come, he continually says this to her at various points when they are having breakfast. After he has gone Diane touches the place where he has kissed her.

Some while later we see Diane giving Chico a haircut, the police arrive to check out their story, satisfied the police leave and Diane slowly collects her things and starts to leave, Chico doesn't immediately realise what she is doing but as she goes out of the door he says 'If you want to stay you can, you're not in my way' She runs and picks up her scissors. This scenes demonstrates the growing closeness between them.

Then we see Diane sat on a chair draping Chico's jacket arms around her, Chico enters with a potted plant and a wedding dress. She is overcome with joy but hesitates, does she not want to marry him? She wants to hear him say the words. Instead he says 'Chico, Diane, Heaven'. They are not to be married in a church, Chico has given up on God. Interrupted by the neighbour Diane carries the soup she has been making to his pregnant wife, taking the dress and soup over the gangway. War has been declared but for now Diane is ignorant of it. She changes into the dress and returns to Chico. He has just been told that he is one of the first ot leave within the hour.

Diane returns looking a vision in her dress, this time the roles between them, it's Chico who is afraid and Diane who gives him the courage to look up, he buries his head in her arms, giving comfort to Chico as he had given it to her, he tells her he loves her, she is elated. He has made her into a very remarkable fellow too. Chico carries Diane around the room, kissing her and not wanting to let her go. Then he sees the medals and they perform their own wedding ceremony exchanges the medals that the priest gave Chico earlier. Chico leaves promising to visit Diane every day at 11am. As soon as he leaves Nana enters, snatching her medal away. Diane has courage and turns on Nana whipping her instead (the only part of the film that makes me uncomfortable). Diane shouts to Chico as he marches away below of how brave she is.

Chico goes to the front and Diane works and every morning at 11am they clutch their medals and talk to one another 'Chico, Diane, Heaven' In the very last days of the war, Chico suffers from a shell going off as he rescues a man. He gives his medal to the priest as he dies. Chico's name appears on the list of war dead and General Brissac (who has been very keen on Diane) tells her. She doesn't believe him, she has spoken to Chico every day, when the priest comes with Chico's medal, she breaks down, then he didn't come everyday. Outside the armistice has been signed, there is carousing in the streets, Diane is heartbroken and has to start again. Then we see Chico blind, fighting his way through the crowds to Diane. Into his house, up the stairs shouting all the while 'DIANE' she hears, then sees and doesn't believe, she's like she's seen a vision, then she does. He's with her again, he's blind but he's back, she reaches out to him then falls to his knees, he kneels opposite her, telling her the Mon Dieu was with him afterall. Diane will be his eyes but Chico won't be blind for long, he is a very remarkable fellow.

The casting of Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell here together for the first time is inspired, she is so small and fragile and he is tall and broad, it reflects the protection he gives her from his physical size.

Is it God that moves them to commune every morning at 11? Or is it a love that is so strong and powerful? I think the second is what Borzage would have us believe. Seventh Heaven to me is one of the most romantic and moving picture to come out of Hollywood. It's also silent cinema at it's very best, sadly an art that fell by the wayside on the onset of sound.


Posted: January 7th, 2010, 5:34 am
by charliechaplinfan
Street Angel

Street Angel was filmed between 26th September to 31st December 1927. The studio cast about for a story to cash in on the success of Seventh Heaven. They found it in Street Angel, as well as starring Gaynor and Farrell and directed by Borzage it also features a European location (Naples), it had sentimental appeal, Gaynor was an orphan again and both were poor. The film is very fluid down to the round set and movable wheel in the middle, Borzage was able to film lots of tracking shots, the best when Gino (Farrell) is searching for Angela (Gaynor).

The story starts on the streets of Naples with a travelling circus, an altercation takes place and a large drum has the skin broken on it. Next Angela nursing her mother whilst the doctor examines her sick mother, he prescribes some medicine, it costs money they haven't got. She gazes after the doctor out of the window and she gaze is taken by the street angel (prostitute) who is plying for trade. Desperate Angela goes out into the street, Gaynor is very childlike, just like Mary Pickford and tries to vamp it up for prospective clients, she fails, they don't notice her, seized with desperation she snatches a wallet lying on a food counter, as she turns to run she runs into the police. They arrest her and take her to court. The next scene is very UFA like in it's composition, Angela is led up to the judges table, we see the scene from behind the judges who are shadows and Angela's face only peers over the bench. She is sentenced to 12 months in the workhouse for soliciting and stealing. She manages to escape and runs through the streets of Naples and runs home to find her mother dead, shadows loom large as she runs out into the night, Borzage is showing that he too can rival Murnau, both were admirers of each other's work and both visited the sets of each others work to watch the other at work. Many times she seems cornered, finally she runs into the travelling circus, they hide her in the broken drum the police are sent another way by the circus.

Next we see the circus complete with Angela who is having her fortune told, she is the pretty girl carried either by the strong man or standing on stilts. The fortune teller forsees love coming into her life when the circus leader tells Angela to hurry along a painter is pinching all their trade. She does, she gives he painter a real earful, she's no longer the shy little girl from Naples. The painter, Gino (Charles Farrell) is captivated by Angela and wants to paint her picture, so he joins the circus to do that, he tries different ways to get into her affections and make her love him, he whistles 'O Sole Mio' all the time but she isn't interested in love, when the picture is finally ready, Angela is transformed, she sees Gino's skill and his love for her in the painting. Her heart melts, he watches her perform with the circus, she is balancing on stilts when she sees the police standing near Gino, she loses her balance and falls, she breaks her ankle and has to leave the circus with Gino who takes her on a boat back to Naples, fear creeps across Angela's face knowing she is going back to the place of her crime.

Gino and Angela settle in rented rooms, they spend the day in Gino's room and Angela has a smaller room she goes to at night, they are hard up and can't pay the rent. Gino sells Angela's painting to survive, he gets a bad price for it and the man who buys it gets someone to forge it and sells it as a 18th century Madonna. Angela is up and about, she sees a policeman questioning a streetwalker, she has sympathy but Gino has none, they deserve what they get. Gino has forgotten to buy provisions so Angela goes to get them, she is spotted by a policeman who recognises her but can't quite place why.

Gino gets a commission to paint a fresco, he comes in laden with food they celebrate then comes a knock on the door, it is the policeman come to get her, she stalls him, 'please give me an hour, it would break his heart,' the kindhearted policeman does that, he waits outside whilst Gino celebrats inside, he gets merrier and merrier and Angela tries to join in with him, trying to make him go to bed, finally she succeeds and goes outside and leaves with the policeman. Gino is unaware of this but is whistling 'o sole mio' which she whistles back to him, when he can't hear it he is suspicious but her throat is cracked, finally she manages to whistle, Gino hears her and goes back to bed. Angela is escorted to the workhouse.

Gino doesn't know where Angela has gone, he searches, through streets, cafes the camera following him constantly, even though another street angel tells him what she was, he doesn't believe her, he despairs, he can't work, he loses his job. Angela whistles their tune in prison and gets joined by the street angel from her boarding house. When they are released Angela goes straight to look at the fresco, she is blown away by it and then realises it was painted by someone else. Gino in the meantime meets the other street angel who tells him where she has seen Angela. Despairing of women he wants to paint one with the face of an angel but the soul of a devil. He goes to the waterfront, Angela has gone there for lack of a place to go, Gino is lighting matches and looking in all the street angel's faces, he lights a match and sees Angela, Angela's expression, so hopeful turns to terror as she realises that he wants to harm her, she runs to the church, Gino set to kill her, he crouches with his hanfs around her neck then his face alights on the painting of the Madonna with Angela's face. 'To think I painted you like that once' 'I'm like that still' then the realisation of each other. No one plays these moments in silent movies better than Borzage.


Posted: January 7th, 2010, 5:38 am
by charliechaplinfan
The River

The River had long been a lost film a print was discovered in the 20th Century vaults by William K Everson. It is imcomplete with 43 minutes remaining but what does remain is the nucleus of the story, the romance between Rosalee and Allen John. It is the most sensual of the silent period, It's my third viewing and still I find myself holding my breath at some of the scenes.

The story takes place in the North, Harry Oliver the set designer was given £50,000 to recreate on the back lot the North complete with river, whirpool, barracks, traintrack, mountains and forrest. The first segment and last segments are missing along iwth a little bit in the middle, what remains is made up with surviving stills.

Allen John Pender (Charles Farrell) has built himself a barge, he leaves home and sail down river hoping to make the sea, Allen John arrives at a hydroelectrical power plant in the Rockies, the water is too shallow for him to continue so he moors his boat for the Autumn and Winter. As he gets off he witnesses Marsdon, the overseer being arrested for murdering a man who lustung after his mistress Rosalee. Sam, a deaf mute (Ivan Linow) a hulk of a man, wants to kill Marsdon, the man who was killed was his friend. Allen John stops him.

Later Rosalee is sitting on a rock watching the water flow when a water barrell catches her eye, spinning closer and closer to a whirlpool, next she is amused to see Allen John, naked floating close to the whirlpool, he pulls himself clear and hauls himself up to where she is sitting, unaware that she is there, Rosalee is amused, he drops back in the water, Borzage is showing how pure and clean Allen is, Rosalee on the other hand is sat with a clinging dress on and heels. Allen John tires to make conversation with her, he regrets it. Rosalee goes back home with Marsdon's pet crow, left to watch over her and a sign of the danger of Marsdon.

Allen John dries off and sets off for the train to take him into the city, he misses it, coming back he is invited in to tea with Rosalee, she knew he'd miss the train. He thought she hated men, but she tells him, he doesn't count. They spend the evening playing cards, Rosalee is amused. Has he ever known a woman? She's the first since his mother who died when he was small. She leans seductively over the table, he's tall, she presses herself against him to measure how tall he is, Allen John is unsure how to react. He's curious, is she Marsdon's wife, no, his sister, no. The train whistles, he's missed it again. He leaves, Rosalee thinks he is scared of her, he nods in agreement. He goes to wait at the station for the morning train. This bit is missing, the next morning he and the deaf mute buy provisions for Rosalee, they take them to her cabin, she isn't there, Allen John starts unpacking them, she returns accusing him of buying her. Furious Allen John goes out side and throws the food in the river, Rosalee repents, and jumps in the river to rescue her food.

Back in the cabin, Allen John dires his pants in front of the fire, Rosalee changes into a negligee, he gives her a piece of candy which she sucks in a very suggestive manner. He sees her wood pile is run down and goes to chop her some more wood. Another missed train. That was the last train until Spring.

Allen John goes to stay at the mill but comes back in Winter to see how she is doing, she's fine but has been terribly lonely. Allen John thinks they should celebrate and gets the checkers board out. Rosalee throws the checkers board away and lies suggestively on the bed. She takes his hand and puts in over her heart, then he listens to it but overcome he goes to kiss her, the raven attacks them. Frustrated Rosalee goes to kill it, Allen John stops her, she stabs him but thankfully the knife bends. Allen John calms her down by declaring his love. She pushes him away, knowing she is no good for him, he goes out without a coat and starts chopping trees to keep her warm. Inexplicably he strips off to the waist on a bitter cold night, Rosalee goes to reason with him but he dissappears into the night, he goes to his barge and lights the fire before he passes out. The next morning Sam returning from hunting finds Allen John unconscious, he takes him to Rosalee's cabin, he rubs snow into his chest to bring him around, nothing, she tries hot liquid, nothing either. Sam goes to fetch more help. Rosalee frantic, wondering how to help takes off her negliee and climbs into bed on top of him, willing him to keep alive, trying to give him warmth, she suceeds in bringing him back to life. He says her name and she promises never to leave him. This is where the recovered excerpt ends.

Spring Marsdon has escaped and comes back to claim Rosalee, he knock Allen John to the floor, Sam seeing Marsdon has a score to settle, Rosalee terrified jumps into the river, Allen John jumps in and saves her. Sam strangles Marsdon in te forrest and then waves the couple off as they begin their journey to the sea.

In some ways The River is a kin to Street Angel, it deals with a woman who is not the ideal that the man would want her to be, she wants him, attracts him and at the same times realises that she is still attached to Marsdon. The River cleanses all, cleanses Rosalee when she jumps in, taking all trace of Marsdon from her, it cleanses Sam after he has killed Marsdon.


Posted: January 7th, 2010, 4:06 pm
by charliechaplinfan
Lucky Star 1929

The last silent Borzage made, it was made as a silent version for the European market and as a part talkie for the American market, thankfully it is the silent version that has been rediscovered today, the talkie reducing the impact of the silent version.

The film opens with Mary (Janet Gaynor) the eldest daughter of 5 children who helps her mother tend the farm. We see the children getting up and Ma getting them dressed. We see a gang of men go past on their way to work at a broken telegraph pole, the gaffer calls to Mary to bring them some milk, this she duly does (watered down of course). The boss, Martin (Guinn Williams) a braggart if ever there was one tosses her a coin onto the floor, she buries it in the dirt and tells him he hasn't paid her. Tim (Charles Farrell ) is working up the pole tells his boss to stop being mean and pay her. The boss climbs up and they fight on top of the telegraph pole, the phone rings telling them that war has been declared. All the men leave apart from Tim who is still mending the wire, he sees Mary uncover the coin and pocket it, it comes down and gives her a leathering.

Next we switch to the trenches, Mary is writing to both Martin and Tim, with spelling mistakes, hoping they haven't been shot and that she will 'nit' socks for them. Martin is a shirker interested in seeing the girls than doing his duty, he sends Tim and another man out to deliver the food, the job he should have been doing. We hear an explosion and see Tim trying to clamber out from under the upturned wagon, the other man is dead.

Tim is invalided home, he is paralysed from the waist down, Mary still not over the licking she got from Tim breaks a window in annoyance but Tim isn't annoyed, he beckons to her to come in, gradually she comes into his house. He gets around his house so quickly in his wheelchair and has fixed up many things so he can use them now he's disabled. He fixes things for a living now, he is lonely but not bitter. He befriends Mary, he makes her a handkerchief to pin onto her dress so she doesn't have to use her sleeve, she tries to sell him berries at a mark up, he knows what she's up to but gives her the extra money for confessing the truth. It's worth saying at this point that Mary is dirty and grubby and has been throughout the picture. Tim gains her confidence and gives her a phonograph he has fixed to keep, she's never been given anything before.

The next day Mary or Ba ba as he calls her is back, he wonders what colour her hair is and buys some eggs off her and washes her hair in a barrell, quite a few rinses later he discovers she's a blonde and a curly one too. Her hair might be clean but the rest of her body isn't, he begins to unfasten her dress to give her a good wash but asks how old she is, 18, he stops, gives her the soap and sends her off to a nearby waterfall to clean herself.

Next Mary goes to town, Martin has returned, blustering about his war record, a dance is to be held, mary buys a dress with money she has been hording from her mother. She takes the dress to Tim's house, he asks her where she got it, she tells him and he tells her she is dirty on the inside for getting it in that way. She changes at Tim's house for the dance and goes to hug Tim, it's a perfect Borzage moment, Tim realises in that moment what she is to him and how he can never declare his love because he's a cripple, Mary doesn't know and doesn't want to pull away. She wishes he was going with her. Agonisingly Tim tries to get his legs working but can't, I think this is a great peice of acting by Farrell. When she gets to the dance Martin deserts his gilr and spends the evening with Mary, spinning her tall tales, the townsfolk say how it is a disgrace that he is uniform since he left the army in disgrace. Mary leaves with Martin and stops at Tim's to change, the old buddies exchange heated words and Martin leaves with Mary to escort her home. Once their he sweet talks her mother with his tall tales and promises.

The next time Mary goes to Tim's her mother has told her that she can't go in, so Tim moves the table to the doorway so Mary can sit outside, they share a meal, something unspoken is between them and Tim agrees to speak to her mother. Martin at that time is telling mother how he will marry Mary in front of the general, mother is pleased, it's more than she'd ever expect for Mary.

Mary waits in vain for Tim to call on her mother, listening to the gramaphone Tim gave her, the weather is bad, he sets off but can't make it in his wheelchair. He tries again to walk, love makes the difference, gives him the power and determination to start taking steps, he takes all night. It's now early morning andit is a race against time as Martin goes to pick up Mary and whisk her off to another life. Tim struggles through the snowstorm and reaches Mary's house just as she is being driven off by Martin. Mary is dejected and has given up fighting, she has no life in her anymore. Tim struggles on to town, Martin is buying the tickets, in the lifting dark Mary glimpses Tim, echoing Diane in Seventh Heaven, she can't believe what she is seeing. She runs to him but Martin gets there, Tim and Martin fight, the townsfolk join in and pack Martin off on the train. Mary drops and grips Tim's legs, he told her he'd been waiting for a special occasion to use his legs again, this was it. He thought he'd been making her over (which he had) but she ended up making him over.

The role of mary is a departure for Janet Gaynor, although a waif, she isn't a helpless one, bullied and overworked but capable of holding her own. Charles Farrell again is an innocent, seeing the good and mending the broken (his job, himself and Mary) the power of love wins out in the end.

This is the last silent in the collection, for the most part they are a romantic bunch of films, each one of them worthy of more than one look. Thank you Fox for releasing them.


Posted: January 7th, 2010, 9:26 pm
by feaito
Wonderful reviews Alison. How much effort you've put in them. Amazing.

Borzage is one of my favorite directors and "Lucky Star" was a big discovery for me. Such an excellent film! I think that arguably it could be hailed as Farrell's and Gaynor's finest film together.


Posted: January 8th, 2010, 1:07 am
by silentscreen
feaito wrote:Wonderful reviews Alison. How much effort you've put in them. Amazing.

Borzage is one of my favorite directors and "Lucky Star" was a big discovery for me. Such an excellent film! I think that arguably it could be hailed as Farrell's and Gaynor's finest film together.
Once again, we agree Fernando. Especially for me, as I think this is Farrell's finest silent perfrormance that I've seen, except maybe for "The River."



Posted: January 8th, 2010, 11:38 am
by feaito
Hi Brenda,

I agree that "The River" is Farrell's best film without Gaynor. "City Girl" comes closely behind. Such great pictures!


Posted: January 8th, 2010, 3:56 pm
by charliechaplinfan
I think we are so lucky to be able to see these films, some lost for many years. As a body of work to watch one after the other they are unforgettable, I don't know whether it contributed to the enjoyment of the movies but watching them in the order they were made was interesting.


Posted: March 21st, 2010, 7:06 am
by charliechaplinfan
Not only did I get to watch Pitfall yesterday. I managed to squeeze in Desire directed by Borzage starring Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich. It has one of the most charming opening scenes with Marlene stealing a pearl necklace but the way she does it, she deserves to keep her ill gotten gains for her barefaced cheek. Marlene steals the pearls in Paris and must get across the Spanish border before she is detected, along the way she runs into Gary Cooper, a mechanic who is taking a holiday. Due to problems with Marlene's car it is decided they travel together, Gary is captivated by Marlene and makes no secret of his attraction. Going through customs at the Spanish border Marlene removes the pearls from her suitcase and places them in Gary's jacket pocket. Once through customs he packs his jacket into his case meaning that Marlene has to spend even more time in his company. She gets him to put his jacket on, he does but it's a different one. Finally she steals his car when he gets out thinking she's got away with his luggage but it's fallen out, Gary still has the pearls. Incensed Gary finds her when they reach San Sebastien. Marlene now with her accomplice and travelling as a countess conspire to get the necklace back from him. With a magic trick the pearls are produced out of Gary's pocket, to his amazement. Marlene and Gary fall in love and that complicates the matter of the necklace, Marlene wants to go straight and finally gets her chance, taking the pearls back to the jeweller and admitting her crime.

Desire was made at Paramount during Lubitsch's residence as a producer, it has that Lubitsch touch in places but retains Borzage's romance. A really delightful comedy.


Posted: March 21st, 2010, 7:57 am
by feaito
Glad you enjoyed it Alison. "Desire" is one of my favorite sophisticated comedies -Paramount excelled in this subgenre- and the only chance (?) of witnessing the blending of Borzage's and Lubitch's talents. Cooper and Marlene made a fine couple. And Zeffie Tilbury is superb!


Posted: March 21st, 2010, 10:17 am
by charliechaplinfan
Yes, I didn't mention her but she was delightful as Aunt Olga. I love the sophisticated comedies of the thirties.