Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
USA, 1927. Frank Borzage Production, Fox Film Corporation. Screenplay by Benjamin Glazer, adaptation and titles by Katherine Hilliker, H.H. Caldwell, based on the play by Austin Strong. Cinematography by Ernest Palmer, Joseph A. Valentine. Produced by William Fox. Music by R.H. Bassett. Production Design by Freddie Stoos. Costume Design by Kathleen Kay. Film Editing by Barney Wolf.
Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor are paired up for the first time, their hot chemistry and the film’s box office success inspiring their being cast together in eleven more movies after this sweet wartime romance. She is once again the good girl living a rough life, walking the streets for money while, at home, being abused by her cruel sister. Farrell sees Gaynor being mistreated and steps in to save her, then when the police come sniffing around pretends that she’s his wife in order to protect her further. They enact a charade to keep the lie going, then find themselves falling deeply in love and prepared to spend their lives in wedded bliss except for the sudden arrival of a pesky global war. Sent overseas to battle, Farrell connects every day with Gaynor through messages sent by heart, and because this is a beautifully filmed, brilliantly acted work of grand sentimentality, this aspect of the story is genuinely touching.
One of the three films for which Gaynor won the first ever Academy Award for Best Actress, this is another example of Frank Borzage’s skill with storytelling and his ability to get deep emotional resonance from such deceptively simple situations.
Academy Awards: Best Actress (Janet Gaynor); Best Director (Frank Borzage); Best Writing (Adaptation)
Nomination: Best Picture; Best Art Direction