Man’s Castle (Frank Borzage, 1933)

The plot goes all over the place after a while, including an incredibly bizarre ending (instant inebriation? šŸ˜• ), and the whole subplot involving the singer who essentially seduces Spencer Tracy is just there to…i dunno, throw a wrench into the budding romance between Tracy and Loretta Young? Regardless, it is thrown in there and practically forgotten about, and that’s fine by me since it did absolutely nothing for me (other than show me an incredibly creative way to serve a summons ). All that matters here is the rise and fall of the romance of, and the chemistry between, Spencer Tracy and Loretta Young as two penniless shantydwellers. His courting her during that fateful night with the skipping out on paying the tab and the light-up tuxedo and the skinnydipping is wonderful, and real, and following that, the relationship between the cynical Bill and innocently naive Trina runs the gamut of highs and lows, and all of those highs and lows are great. The fear in Bill’s eyes when Trina tells him that [spoiler]she’s pregnant[/spoiler], followed by the sheer awkwardness of their makeshift wedding (they can’t even look each other in the eye, and Bill looks like he just wants to bolt out of there at lightspeed). And then on the flipside, the moment when Bill finally caves and buys the stove that Trina’s been pining for, going against his anti-establishment laurels, and rather than some sappy thank-you, she simple looks up at him wide-eyed, he looks down at her with begrudging generosity, and neither can come up with the right words, but the way they look at each other says it all. And then the walking toy, the makeshift sunroof where Borzage gives us long moments to simply admire and contemplate the heavens as Bill and Trina do, and the final scene – all somewhat kitschy, but impossible not to move you. Other than some early sermonizing by Spencer Tracy, thankfully there wasn’t much by way of overtly and patronizingly trying to educate you on the unemployment rate and Hoovervilles and other 1930s-era issues a la Hawks’ “Scarface”, as other than the plot meanderings that I already said were to the film’s detriment, Borzage kept it simple in terms of telling a story about a man and a woman getting by. She ain’t the sharpest crayon in the box and he at best doesn’t know what he has in this naive but devoted girl, and downright treats her like discarded trash at worst, but what’s plain as day, even if you can’t put it into words just why, is that they’re made for each other. This was lovely, I should probably seek out more Borzage

8/10

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