Man’s Castle

Frank Borzage

T. it.: Vicino alle stelle. Sog.: dall’omonima opera teatrale di Lawrence Hazard. Scen.: Jo Swerling. F.: Joseph H. August. Mo.: Viola Lawrence. Scgf.: Stephen Goosson. Mu.: W. Franke Harling. Su.: Wilbur Brown. Int.: Spencer Tracy (Bill), Loretta Young (Trina), Marjorie Rambeau (Flossie), Glenda Farrell (Fay La Rue), Walter Connolly (Ira), Arthur Hohl (Bragg), Dickie Moore (Joey). Prod.: Columbia Pictures Corporation. Pri. pro.: 27 ottobre 1933  35mm. D.: 75’. Bn. 

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Frank Borzage, the noble and romantic mystic of the American cinema, often went to the heart of the most poignant themes of the times he lived in – the World War, the rise of Nazism and the Depres­sion, the last of these never so movingly as in Man’s Castle – once again armed with poetry coupled with pain. As often, paradoxes and unlikely images prevail, starting with the way Borzage lights a sto­ry that takes place in the most notorious landmark of the Great Depression, named after a failing president – Hooverville. The ghetto of the homeless Lumpenproletariat is real in the sense that the trouble shown is mortally present. At the same time the narrative is like a proud, romantic dream – it’s Hollywood in its plenitude, with ethereal facts of human faith, or small human victories in unofficial places, that prevail in spite of tragic material realities. This happens with winning naiveté, with no trace of cheap compromise. It’s people themselves who count: their presence, their look of confi­dence, the way they touch each other. The last images of the film – in the train – are the most victorious in all romantic cinema: nothing in the world is impossible, noth­ing is improbable, especially with citizens like Spencer Tracy and Loretta Young, the greatest Borzage couple (of course, along with Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, who made several films together for Borzage starting with Seventh Heaven).

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