For Reel

Stranded (1935)
July 21, 2014, 5:33 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Frank Borzage
4 Stars
StrandedA staple sequence in many of Frank Borzage’s romantic dramas is the first date–the dance in the closed-down restaurant in History Is Made at Night, the night of romance following a meet-cute in Living on Velvet. What distinguishes Stranded is just how dreadful the date goes, with the script emphasizing Kay Francis’ commitment to her work above all and George Brent’s growing frustration with the lack of attention he’s receiving. It’s an unusual episode for Borzage, one that almost argues that love doesn’t, in fact, conquer all–at least not yet (in the end, this is indeed Borzage). As the engineer, Brent is an unlikely hero for the genre. He’s a practical, conservative man with very little interest in the essential goodness of human beings (which creates the key conflict between he and his lover). Although his inevitable transformation is a contrived one, it’s interesting to see a movie of this period in which the woman holds her ground until the man is accepting of her chosen career path and independence. Besides the romance, Borzage invests a lot of screentime into detailing the gritty realism of the Depression (as he does in After Tomorrow), with his interest in juxtaposing romanticism with harsh realism exemplified early on when a tangential look at an adorable child is followed immediately by an old man committing suicide.

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