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feaito

FRANK BORZAGE

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I must admit, that as a teenager my first contacts with the works and films of some of the members, or people who lived during Hollywood's Golden Era, were not, in some cases, the films themselves, but Books about film.

 

In the case of Frank Borzage, besides "Three Comrades" (1938) and "Smilin' Through" (1941), both of which I saw for the first time as a child, I knew most of his work through the views of some authors, especially people from Spain who hailed him as the epitome of "Romantic Film Directors". This sounded so intriguing, that I had to read more & more....

 

Then, with the coming years, I've had the opportunity of watching some of the movies that were made by this "Master of Romance".

 

Well, thanks to TCM I could watch three excellent dramas, directed by him at MGM: "Three Comrades", "The Shining Hour" and "The Mortal Storm", all starring the wonderful, great actress Margaret Sullavan...best known for Lubitsch's masterpiece "The Shop Around The Corner".

 

Well TCM also shows the excellent-moody "Strange Cargo" with Gable & Crawford and the sentimental remake of "Smilin' Through" with Jeanette MacDonald (as the lovely Moonyean), Gene Raymond and Brian Aherne; "Mannequin" Crawfrod-Tracy; and many others he made in his MGM phase.

 

Borzage's delicacy & artistry in handling romantic relationships, can be appreciated in such films as the superbly-romantic, sensitive, "A Farewell to Arms", in which (IMHO) both Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes, give excellent performances, as the troubled couple in love. Not even the bad quality of most of the Public Domain copies of this filme can deprive it of its "ethereal" impact.

 

Then there's the comedy-drama-shipboard-romance "History is Made at Night", with Jean Arthur, in one of her most unlikely romantic (and excellent) portrayals, opposite french heart-throb, Charles Boyer. This sort of offbeat film, was not what I expected in the first place: merely a "sophisticated" comedy. No it wasn't just that, I was totally pleased, because it's much more than that. It's a serious, film about "human" relationships, the misunderstandings, the isolation of human souls, how strangely people fall in love with each other...in some pretty weird circumstamces. For me, a work of art.

 

There's too, the very good romantic comedy, "Desire", which also, has much of its producer, Ernst Lubitsch (made at Paramount) in which alluring jewel thief, Marlene Dietrich meets "naive" Gary Cooper. An enjoyable romp, which also features the seasoned John Halliday.

 

Then, there are the films, of which I've heard a lot and long to see: "A Man's Castle" (1933) (Columbia) with Spencer Tracy and Loretta Young; "Seventh Heaven" (1927) and "Street Angel" (FOX), both with Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor; "The River" (FOX) with Farrell and Mary Duncan (I've read this is a real piece of art); "Song O' My Heart" (FOX) with Alice Joyce, John McCormack, Maureen O'Sullivan; the dreamy-ethereal "Secrets" (U.A.) with Leslie Howard and Mary Pickford (I'd kill to see this one); Columbia's "No Greater Glory" and "Little Man What Now?", the latter starring Maggie Sullavan, and more.

 

Frank Borzage's work is rarely discussed and I think it is time to make justice and note his importance in the North American Cinema History.

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I doubt anyone could not notice Frank Borzage's work, especially with those 2 Academy Awards for Best Director!

 

Don't forget Moonrise from 1948 with Gail Russell. Hitting film noir hard.........

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Yes, you're right...but sadly, those A. Awards were won by him, for "Bad Girl" in 1931, which is a lesser known film nowadays, with Sally Eilers and James Dunn, scarcely seen...anywhere..and the silent "Seventh Heaven"...which was very famous in its time...maybe they show this films on Fox Movie Channel...

 

And yes I hadn't mentioned Moonrise...good reminder!

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It's hard to believe people can forget the Director to win the 1st Academy Award for Best Director, but you are quite right. Columbia Studios was pushing the envolope in the 1930's when the TWO FRANKS were on the lot! Frank Capra and Frank Borzage...

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Excellent thread, Fedo! When I first saw it, I said to myself, "Frank Who??", and of course this clearly demonstrates not only my ignorance of this fine Director, but also the plain and simple fact that his name is seldom mentioned here. I'm paying attention now, though! :)ML

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Thanks M.L....Since childhood I was...what do you call it a "Library Mouse"...I read everything that had to do with films!!

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You're very Welcome, Fedo. I continue to look forward to your posts in which you can share so much of what you learned being a "Library Mouse" (delightful!). That was time well-spent! Thanks again! ;)ML

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As I stated in this post...I just LOVE sharing views with people who care...and have a PASSION for this.

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