For Reel

The Shining Hour (1938)
September 23, 2014, 3:58 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Frank Borzage
4.5 Stars
The Shining HourIn a Frank Borzage picture, romance is a life-force, an unmitigated drive, the unconquerable. In The Shining Hour, Borzage uses Margaret Sullavan (his muse at the time) to convey both the bravery of being a lover and the inherent tragedy of it. Both Sullavan and Melvyn Douglas are cast as characters who are positive in living and love without fear, harshly juxtaposed with the ever-doubting Joan Crawford and Robert Young, who are always searching for something more. Their capacity for love is almost holy, but in Sullavan’s case the wear of selfless love is etched in her desperate face. In a beautiful moment, she notices that her husband, Young, has been flirting with Crawford, so she takes the time to adjust his tie–a gesture that says, “look at how much I care for you, look at how much you need me.” While the picture is relatively neglected in Borzage’s career as a simple soap opera, it is one of his purest and most emotionally honest looks at romance. Lovers aren’t kept apart by external circumstances, rather by the very fact that one partner doesn’t believe quite as much as the other does.

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