Frank Borzage

"To this day, he remains under appreciated, even obscure, perhaps because his melodramatic sensibilities have fallen out of fashion. Although his films may seem outdated due to their immediate political and social contexts, their emotional power and visual radiance remains undimmed; these are films as timeless and eternal as the loves they honour." - Jessica Winter (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)

Frank Borzage

Director / Producer
(1894-1962) Born April 23, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Country: USA
Key Genres: Drama, Romance, Romantic Drama, Melodrama, War Romance, War Drama, War, Musical
Key Collaborators: Cedric Gibbons (Production Designer), Margaret Sullavan (Leading Actress), Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Producer), Franz Waxman (Composer), Harry Oliver (Production Designer), Janet Gaynor (Leading Actress), Charles Farrell (Leading Actor), Joan Crawford (Leading Actress), Robert Young (Leading Actor), William Fox (Producer), George Folsey (Cinematographer), Ernest Palmer (Cinematographer)

"Frank Borzage had a rare gift of taking characters, even those who were children of violence, and fashioning a treatment of them abundant with lyrical romanticism and tenderness, even a spirituality that reformed them and their story… There was a lasting tenderness about Borzage’s treatment of a love story, and during the days of the Depression and the rise of Fascism, his pictures were ennobling melodramas about the power of love to create a heaven on earth. Penelope Gilliatt has remarked that Borzage ‘‘had a tenderness rare in melodrama and absolute pitch about period. He understood adversity.’’ Outside of Griffith, there has never been another director in the business who could so effectively triumph over sentimentality, using true sentiment with an honest touch." - DeWitt Bodeen (International Dictionary of Film and Filmmakers, 1991)
"By the mid-1920s, Borzage was one of the most successful Hollywood directors - as witness the fact that he won the newly created Oscar for direction twice in its first five years - for Seventh Heaven and Bad Girl. War, and the consequent taste for realism, destroyed the world he had created and after The Mortal Storm, only one other film - Moonrise - properly revealed his talent. As a result, he is now badly neglected." - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2002)
"Frank Borzage was that rarity of rarities, an uncompromising romanticist... Borzage never needed dream worlds for his suspension of disbelief. He plunged into the real worlds of poverty and oppression, the world of Roosevelt and Hitler, the New Deal and the New Order, to impart an aura to his characters, not merely through soft focus and a fluid camera, but through a genuine concern with the wondrous inner life of lovers in the midst of adversity." - Andrew Sarris (The American Cinema, 1968)
"Crucial to his films' incandescent romanticism were his fluid use of the camera, floating through unoccupied spaces to suggest mysterious invisible forces existing beyond the material realm, and a focus on luminous faces; his attention to actresses, especially Janet Gaynor and Margaret Sullavan, made unusually palpable the strength of their undying love." - Geoff Andrew (The Director's Vision, 1999)
"The films of his greatest period - the late Twenties and early Thirties - are filled with his unique blend of romanticism and spirituality, and feature pairs of lovers living out their charmed lives against backgrounds like the Great War (Seventh Heaven), the Depression (Man's Castle) and the rise of fascism in Europe (Little Man, What Now?). He was a supreme technician, especially adept at rendering mysticism with adventurous camerawork and lighting." - The Illustrated Who's Who of the Cinema, 1983
"Borzage's top films are laden with romance and expressive camera work and lighting." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
"The trouble with most directors is that they take the whole thing too seriously… Making a motion picture consists of merely going onto the set, training a camera on competent players and letting them enact a good script." - Frank Borzage
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
A Farewell to Arms (1932), Man's Castle (1933) , Three Comrades (1938), Moonrise (1948)
Recommended
Seventh Heaven (1927) , Lucky Star (1929), After Tomorrow (1932), Desire (1936), Mannequin (1937), History is Made at Night (1937), The Shining Hour (1938), Strange Cargo (1940)
Worth a Look
Lazybones (1925), Street Angel (1928), The River (1929), Bad Girl (1931), Little Man, What Now? (1934), No Greater Glory (1934), The Mortal Storm (1940), His Butler's Sister (1943), I've Always Loved You (1946)
Approach with Caution
Seven Sweethearts (1942), Stage Door Canteen (1943), The Spanish Main (1945), China Doll (1958)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    A Farewell to Arms
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