For Reel

Mannequin (1937)
August 11, 2015, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Frank Borzage
3.5 Stars
MannequinIn Mannequin, Spencer Tracy plays a humble, lonely man who has much to learn about what it means to be in a Frank Borzage picture. He first encounters Joan Crawford at a restaurant where he asks the newlywed to dance. Not only is he taken by her beauty, but he is amazed by the type of love that she’s capable of–when the first song is over, his response is to throw another nickel in the jukebox to prolong his time with the woman. His social status is his only means of seeing the world and thus his only means of courtship, as later he invites her to fancy parties in hopes of seeing her again. Just before he kisses her, he reflects, “I never knew anything could mean so much to anybody up until now.” That Tracy is rocked by Crawford’s sacrifices and her purity says much about Borzage’s worldview, being that love takes a precedence over everything, even poverty. While Crawford leaving her working class husband for a rich man might make a counterargument to this theme, it is fitting that Tracy’s wealth vanishes from him by the end–it’s a trade off between profit and romance. Though considered a minor film in Borzage’s rich oeuvre, Mannequin is a concise articulation of his philosophy, a pleasant championing of his themes. Crawford is expectedly well-cast as a working girl, and Tracy gives a very different performance than the one he gave for Borzage in Man’s Castle, here playing a gentle student to Crawford’s selfless forfeiture to love.