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FRANK BORZAGE

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

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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby Gary J. » July 10th, 2011, 11:57 am

I was going to add the Seinfield caveat concerning 'filmed plays'.

"Not that it's a bad thing...."

I never heard of HEAT LIGHTNING but I hope their cacti set is more convincing than in PF
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby moira finnie » July 10th, 2011, 12:36 pm

Gary J. wrote:I was going to add the Seinfield caveat concerning 'filmed plays'.

"Not that it's a bad thing...."

I never heard of HEAT LIGHTNING but I hope their cacti set is more convincing than in PF

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Heat Lightning (1934), set and filmed in what appears to be a sweltering desert location, is one of those early Mervyn LeRoy films that compresses its dramatic action into a mere 63 minutes, fueled by the crackling tension between two of the period's best actresses, Aline MacMahon and Ann Dvorak, who played sisters. While the running time doesn't allow for much nuance in the plot, the movie managed to critique the need for and limitations of feminism, capitalism, and social mores, not to mention biology as destiny. The basic plot involves the efforts of the elder sister (MacMahon) to prevent her younger sister (Dvorak) from experiencing the corruption and disappointment that she has known. The sisters have turned their back on a society and individual men who had betrayed them, with MacMahon dragging her naive sister off with her to the desert. Inevitably, life intrudes on their simmering discontent at the filling station/diner they run by the highway. Good acting all around, especially by the leads, but also the gritty and frequently funny Glenda Farrell and Ruth Donnelly as a pair of weathered gold diggers on a run to Reno to fleece their latest marks. Jane Darwell and Edgar Kennedy also give a deadly example of the "joys of married life."

I don't want to overstate this one, but the cast and the ideas it touches on make it one of the best B movies of the early '30s. This being released just prior to the Production Code, it doesn't ignore the basics of human biological life either.
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charliechaplinfan
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby charliechaplinfan » July 10th, 2011, 3:35 pm

Heat Lightining is a good precode, I agree about Ann Dvorak and Aline MacMahon, they give priceless performances, it's a surprising film. I don't mind filmed plays, some are really effective like A Streetcar Named Desire. I agree about Leslie Howard's Ashley in GWTW, it's a thankless part yet it is a very good performance, I believe that Scarlett thinks she loves Ashley and why she would have fallen for him in the first place, he's the anthithesis of Rhett who dazzles, Ashley is gently charming with his Southern manners and Leslie Howard conveys this in the most charming way.
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby moira finnie » July 10th, 2011, 4:19 pm

You guys know that Heat Lightning (1934) is being broadcast on TCM tomorrow, July 11th, at 3:15PM EDT, don't you?

It's also on DVD and will be re-aired on Thursday, September 29 @ 10:45 AM (EDT) too.
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby JackFavell » July 10th, 2011, 8:04 pm

Tomorrow looks like a great day all around. I better get some sleep so I can wake up bright and early to record.

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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby charliechaplinfan » July 11th, 2011, 12:03 pm

I do envy you, I'm faced by endless quiz shows or reality shows. Thank heavens for friends and my DVDs. Enjoy Heat Lightinin', it's a great movie.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby kingrat » July 11th, 2011, 4:04 pm

Secrets is not the film I'd recommend to anyone wanting to get acquainted with Frank Borzage. The Mortal Storm was the first I saw, and that made me interested in seeing more of Borzage's work. Secrets essentially has four separate acts--the stars meet cute and elope; their cabin is under siege by cattle rustlers; a marital crisis occurs in the parents' middle age; and the old couple has some life in them still. These four acts seem to come from completely different plays, and for me the picture did not hold together, despite outstanding work by both Leslie Howard and Mary Pickford, whose voice sounds like Miriam Hopkins without the Southern accent. From the comic opening to the rather conventional western was jarring enough, but the marital problems third act was an even bigger jolt. The film seemed much longer than its modest running length.

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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby JackFavell » July 11th, 2011, 6:40 pm

I too felt Secrets was all over the place, kingrat, but I was glad I watched it, for the performances.

It's kind of an oddball film, with a little of this and a little of that. They keep throwing that curve ball, changing the story up on you. I didn't think it would work when Howard and Pickford went out west, but somehow, it wasn't so unbelievable, thanks to the acting.

I think if I were to pick a Borzage film to start with, it would be The Mortal Storm too, or Three Comrades, maybe History is Made at Night. I think if you watch his 20's movies, then went on to his later work, you might feel disappointed. I totally disliked his Liliom, I felt it was all wrong, yet it was an honest effort with a few moments that were beautiful. I think he was a very creative, sometimes magical director, but often made disjointed films. I will always give him the benefit of the doubt by watching his movies, there are things to love even in his less than perfect films.

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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby charliechaplinfan » July 12th, 2011, 1:29 pm

I wouldn't start with Secrets either, his silents have such a raw emotional pull to them that his talkies can be a jolt out of the blue. I think Farewell to Arms or History is Made At Night is a good place to start for the romance, The Mortal Storm or Strange Cargo are other favourites. Secrets is a flawed film but it is an interesting one, primarily for the performances.
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby CineMaven » November 26th, 2011, 1:56 pm

Came across this Borzage film on YouTube. Thought his fans might like to check it out. I'm still discovering him. Slowly but surely. Slowly but surely...

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghZGIDjEd8w&feature=related[/youtube]

I'll be checking it out soon.
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby feaito » November 26th, 2011, 3:58 pm

It's a good film Theresa, I saw it a couple of years ago, thanks to Christine.

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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby CineMaven » November 26th, 2011, 4:15 pm

Fernando, I'm looking forward to checking it out. Thanx.
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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby pvitari » November 27th, 2011, 3:29 am

You haven't seen borzage till you've seen those three silent classics with gaynor & Farrell. It's amazing how borzage's unshaking faith in the power of love turns what would have been maudlin nonsense in less capable hands into transcendence.

Moonrise is the last great borzage film with an amazing opening.

Would write more but I'm using one of those ([email protected]&/! iPads and typing/editing anything beyond a simple sentence or two is impossible.

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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby CineMaven » November 28th, 2011, 4:41 pm

I'm using one finger to type on my iPOD Touch. Ahhh technology. Ain't it grand. And a pain in the ***. I mean patootie!!

Just saw "MOONRISE." Struggled to get passed Dane Clark. But Rex Ingram and Allyn Joslyn were fantastic. And Gail Russell...

Well I am now utterly convinced she was one of the great actresses with tremendously great depth. You can see her think...that the words are not memorized but thought through right then and there. She is mesmerizing. What an interesting plot and the way Borzage unfolds this tale...I've never FELT a movie quite like this.

More later...

My one finger is getting tired of tapping this teeny tiny iPOD keyboard.

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Re: FRANK BORZAGE

Postby feaito » May 1st, 2012, 8:57 pm

I have just watched the KINO LORBER Blu Ray release of the 35mm print owned by the Selznick Collection of "A Farewell to Arms" (1932), one fo my very favourite films/Borzages of all time with Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes at their peak, giving luminous & inspired performances. By the way, the print has the original unhappy ending, as it was intended to be by Mr. Borzage.

The print is very good, but to be honest, very similar in shape and running time, as the one that Christine shared with me years ago (Up to then I had only seen the butchered prints with the Warners logo).

Arguably, Helen Hayes' finest moment onscreen and one of Gary Cooper's most sensitive, honest performances. Adolphe Menjou, Mary Philips, Jack La Rue, are all superb! This film demonstrates the range of La Rue, who not only was skilled at playing sleazy types, but he could believably impersonate a Catholic priest with mixed feelings regarding War.

The Romantic scenes are among the most exquisite ever filmed.


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