Arlecchino Cinema > 14:45


Frank Borzage
Introduced by

Rita Belda (Sony Pictures Entertainment)


Thursday 29/06/2023


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Frank Borzage was the greatest romantic in the American cinema, yet he was always aware of the background of his romances. His approach was based on paradox and a defiant “irrealism”, evident in his exceptional approach to the Great Depression. Man’s Castle takes place mostly in one of the shanty towns known as Hooverville, in honour of the US president in 1932. Bill (Spencer Tracy) is introduced to Trina (Loretta Young) in top hat and tails – and revealed to be a sandwich man for a famous coffee brand. A milieu that any other film would portray as a desolate wasteland transforms into a proudly romantic dream world. The very fact that you own nothing but can trust another person creates a “safety zone”. Suddenly Bill strips naked – and Trina right after him. They swim towards the moon, following the reflection of moonlight forming a bridge over the water. In Borzage’s cinema, mastery of the intimate gesture, peculiar to the most beautiful silent films, lived on. The images emit a language of tenderness, whose secret had seemed lost forever. When Trina reveals she is pregnant, Bill remains silent. Then we just see him jump on a train. We see the tear drenched Trina whose eyes display the trust which only Borzage was able to convey: the defiance, the absurd faith, the sparkle in her eyes inseparable from the stars in the sky. The cosmic and the intimate are one. Each of us has a piece of earth in death, and a piece of heaven in life. In the closing images, the train hurtles through the landscape. Trina, reclining in a cattle car, is wearing a long gown. Bill rests his head on her chest. The camera slowly rises into one of the most romantic images in the history of cinema – a triumphant vision of how nothing in the world is impossible.

Peter von Bagh, Kaipuun punainen hetki [The Red Moment of Desire], Otava, Helsinki 1991. Edited in English by Antti Alanen

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dalla pièce omonima (1932) di Lawrence Hazard. Scen.: Jo Swerling. F.: Joseph H. August. M.: Viola Lawrence. Scgf.: Stephen Goosson. Mus.: W. Franke Harling. 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.: Frank Borzage per Columbia Pictures. DCP. Bn.