Frank Borzage

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kingofthejungle
Joined: Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:25 am

Re: Frank Borzage

#101 Post by kingofthejungle » Mon Jun 27, 2016 8:48 am

Thanks for the response, I'll help the best I can.

We've arranged to get a 2k scan from the LoC. The only thing I know about the print is the info on their website, which says that it's a 35mm Acetate Master Positive, and that it's complete. I'm really just in the organizational part of this and don't really know what that means, but I hope it's helpful. We are told by our LoC contact that the print is in pretty good shape, too - but I haven't seen it and can't give any more info.

Obviously availability is our top priority, so the kickstarter goal was set for the minimum we'd need for transfer, basic cleanup which includes (as I understand it) making sure that everything plays back at the appropriate speed, stabilization, and dust removal, and manufacturing. We've got several people in film restoration volunteering their time to help us, and they know a lot more about this than I do obviously. I'll see if I can't get one of them to give me more information if you need it. I really want everything as clear and concise as it can be.

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neilist
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Re: Kickstarter, Indiegogo and crowd-funding

#102 Post by neilist » Sun Jul 10, 2016 4:45 pm

Kickstarter for the 'transfer, touch-up, and proper DVD' of Frank Borzage's 1922 'The Pride of Palomar'. $5 for a six-month exclusive stream or $25 for a DVD, plus other options.

It claims to be 'the first in what will hopefully be a series of campaigns to choose one endangered film of aesthetic importance and draw upon our community resources to transfer, touch up, score and release it for the world to see'.

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Gregory
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Re: Kickstarter, Indiegogo and crowd-funding

#103 Post by Gregory » Sun Jul 10, 2016 6:53 pm

I'm all for more films like that one becoming available again, of course, but a little historical context helps a lot when the film in question isn't just any old silent western but is a Hearst-sponsored "yellow peril" propaganda piece. That year Hearst was attempting a Senate run with a key part of his platform being fearmongering about Japanese immigration in California. While many westerns involve stories of crooked real estate deals, it's a little unusual to say the least to have a ranch being sold to "a rich Japanese who is secretly planning the Japanese colonization of the entire country" (quoting Hervé Dumont's Borzage book). This is one of the most interesting things about the film historically, but the Kickstarter neglects to mention any of this. Sounds like the TrueFilm folks set up this Kickstarter before having any access to the film that will be transferred and scored, so I think there may be a lot of surprised people when it's available in December.

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kidc85
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Re: Kickstarter, Indiegogo and crowd-funding

#104 Post by kidc85 » Mon Jul 11, 2016 9:05 am

It's worth adding that none of these Redditors (unlike Edward Lorusso / Nitrateville) have any experience at doing this.
Gregory wrote:a Hearst-sponsored "yellow peril" propaganda piece. [...] so I think there may be a lot of surprised people when it's available in December.
I had read about their campaign before this, but I had no idea. I'm assuming that they don't know either. Hope you don't mind, but I'm going to cross-post this to Reddit.

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domino harvey
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Re: Kickstarter, Indiegogo and crowd-funding

#105 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jul 11, 2016 11:02 am

Gregory wrote:I'm all for more films like that one becoming available again, of course, but a little historical context helps a lot when the film in question isn't just any old silent western but is a Hearst-sponsored "yellow peril" propaganda piece. That year Hearst was attempting a Senate run with a key part of his platform being fearmongering about Japanese immigration in California. While many westerns involve stories of crooked real estate deals, it's a little unusual to say the least to have a ranch being sold to "a rich Japanese who is secretly planning the Japanese colonization of the entire country" (quoting Hervé Dumont's Borzage book). This is one of the most interesting things about the film historically, but the Kickstarter neglects to mention any of this. Sounds like the TrueFilm folks set up this Kickstarter before having any access to the film that will be transferred and scored, so I think there may be a lot of surprised people when it's available in December.
This is kind of hilarious in retrospect though-- "Let's rescue a forgotten film!" (five months later) "Oh, that's why." I assume/hope they did their research on the film and are planning to tackle it from a context-heavy perspective if what you're saying is true. At the very least, if they knew in advance, I believe it's irresponsible for the organizers to have not disclosed this aspect to the backers. I think it sounds like a worthy cause and I am curious to see it myself, but I could not possibly blame anyone who felt bamboozled into financially supporting a racist film (again, assuming this is accurate)-- maybe they can offer an "escape" clause for backers who no longer feel comfortable having pledged?

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MichaelB
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Re: Kickstarter, Indiegogo and crowd-funding

#106 Post by MichaelB » Mon Jul 11, 2016 11:05 am

There's certainly a good historical case for restoring dubious propaganda pieces - the BFI was quite right not to censor or suppress the now-notorious 'Cosmopolitan London' entry in the Wonderful London series, or indeed hide the fact that the black cat on the Antarctic expedition chronicled in The Great White Silence had a name that I'd best not spell out here. But you do need to be absolutely upfront about what you're doing, and why.

pmcinern
Joined: Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:35 am

Re: Kickstarter, Indiegogo and crowd-funding

#107 Post by pmcinern » Tue Jul 19, 2016 10:07 am

Hey gang, I'm one of the people on the Pride of Palomar team. I just wanted to thank you for mentioning the project here, and to let you know we've taken what's been said here to heart. We just posted an update explaining that it is, in fact, a propaganda piece. Of course, anyone can adjust their donation levels, or even opt out entirely if they want to. If anyone here is considering this, I would also like to mention that our campaign has gone so well, that we're inquiring about the possibility of transferring another (non-propaganda) Borzage film, and including it in the release. I get that the issue is that it wasn't addressed from day one, so we're doing our best to rectify any concerns people may have. So far, we haven't heard any objections from backers.

Someone mentioned that we have no experience doing this; that's true! We're enthusiasts who want to contribute something tangible to the world of movies, and we have to start somewhere. This isn't our day job, we're not making money off of it, and we're learning as we go. This does not speak to the standards we hold; it just means we're not the CC or MoC, and we can't do a full restoration. If anyone would like to discuss the project, I'd love to talk about it. Thanks.

- Pat

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hearthesilence
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Re: Frank Borzage

#108 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Feb 15, 2017 10:33 pm

They're playing Man's Castle at MoMA as part of a series on Hollywood and the Depression. (One more screening left.)

The print's in excellent shape, but sadly it's not really an improvement over what I've seen on TCM. The version they broadcast honestly looks like it could have been transferred from the same print, as it has the same contrast issues (the first scene alone looks too lost in the dark). I'm guessing the OCN is currently lost - a shame, but they really should make this available somewhere besides TCM as it's never been issued on a legit DVD, much less a BD.

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domino harvey
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Re: Frank Borzage

#109 Post by domino harvey » Mon Mar 13, 2017 6:40 pm

I just got my Kickstarter copy of the Pride of Palomar in and it's a DVD-R. It says right in the rewards summary that these would be pressed. So glad I literally threw away $25 on a burned DVD-R. I know I'm SOL on this one but I'll be sure to never support TruFilm on any future projects

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hearthesilence
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Re: Frank Borzage

#110 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Mar 13, 2017 7:18 pm

Ugh. Does it at least look decent?

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domino harvey
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Re: Frank Borzage

#111 Post by domino harvey » Mon Mar 13, 2017 7:29 pm

I'm no expert but while the print looks okay, based on sampling it a bit I'm pretty sure it's playing at the wrong speed (too fast)

Tuco
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Frank Borzage Silents From Carlotta

#112 Post by Tuco » Fri Aug 03, 2018 2:28 am

Any chance that we'll ever see these released on U.S. blu-ray? I've only seen LUCKY STAR, but good gracious it looked gorgeous.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Frank Borzage

#113 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Mar 24, 2019 11:56 pm

In addition to John Ford's Pilgrimage (which I saw at home), I caught two Borzage films at MoMA: Street Angel ("new 4K restoration from nitrate elements held by MoMA, funded by Twentieth Century Fox") and Lazybones (probably a DCP of a good but worn 35mm print with no visible 'restoration' work done to it).

The former was made after 7th Heaven with the same two leads, and I think it's actually the better film. The sets are simply astonishing - for both the detail and their general scope, and this is clearly seen in a number of virtuosic sequences where Gaynor (in another outstanding performance) races across it like an obstacle course and where Farrell goes looking for Gaynor in its crowded streets. The former is done in long shot, including some striking tracking or dolly shots, and the latter is a tight medium shot that follows Farrell. It's every bit as impressive as 7th Heaven on a technical level, but the emotional heft is even greater and carried through to the very end. As the climax unfolded, it brought to mind the climax from The Searchers, though there's one crucial difference that kept it from playing out like a dramatic blueprint for the latter.

Lazybones was made several years before, and I only saw it on David Bordwell's recommendation. I knew virtually nothing about the film, and I didn't even read Bordwell's entire write-up on it. I only saw the part where he called it a "revelation," and he's absolutely right. I urge anyone who sees this to go in fresh because it's absolutely wonderful how it unfolds beautifully in unexpected ways. (The last act feels particularly bold and risky, though it's uncertain to me if it felt that way back then.) And once again, certain scenes brought to mind another John Ford masterpiece that was made decades later. Bordwell speculates that the film fell into obscurity because it was lost for decades until it was rediscovered in 20th Century Fox's archives in 1970, and even then I'm guessing it never got the proper restoration and distribution it deserved.

I wanted to mention Pilgrimage because even though I didn't see the actual restoration at MoMA, and even though this is a Borzage thread, the conflict (or tragedy) in all three films is driven by judgmental and puritanical beliefs. In each case, it irrevocably upends each and everyone's life, often denying the people in the respective films the relationships they should have had in their lives. It's a plot device that remains powerful to this day, and I think a big and unfortunate reason is that I've seen it play out with quite a few people in recent years.

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dustybooks
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Re: Frank Borzage

#114 Post by dustybooks » Mon Mar 25, 2019 12:15 am

I love both Lazybones and Street Angel and agree that the latter is truly enchanting and that the world it creates feels incredibly immersive and complete. Borzage's eye for idiosyncratic, well-observed little details shared between couples is something I find startling to this day -- even in lesser films like After Tomorrow, which has some of the most natural depictions of "young love" I've ever seen. So few other Hollywood directors seem to come anywhere close to that sensibility. (Wyler did sometimes.)

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Frank Borzage

#115 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Apr 16, 2020 9:51 pm

I think 7th Heaven may still be his masterpiece but Lucky Star blew me away, especially the first half's exchanges between Farrell and Gaynor, which were as sensitive and inviting as any silent film's demonstration of energetic human connection. There is unprecedented oscillating chemistry as Gaynor responds with careful doe-eyed awe and ages before us as she maturely blossoms into love while Farrell complexly wrestles with his own traumatic history to try to de-age himself to a place where he can return it. Farrell is at his best here, but Gaynor continues to destroy me and the camera together like a Medusa of innocent honesty accentuating all the right aspects of human expression. The communication dance between them is barely verbal, and all the insecurities and desires fluctuate from simmer to boil but are constantly on the verge of bursting through the social mores, as we bear witness to the real magic inherent in such reciprocal attraction that leaves one disabled by emotions, taking the common and finding the unique within. The back half isn't quite as great, but the melodrama must catapult Farrell to take action, and boy does he - in one of the great finales that you'll either roll your eyes at or buy in fully. Magical realism, maybe - foreshadowed by the beautiful conversation on "special occasions" coming full circle - but what better way to visually express movement towards accepting and embracing love than to be granted biblical powers.

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HinkyDinkyTruesmith
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Re: Frank Borzage

#116 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Thu Apr 16, 2020 11:45 pm

Have you seen History Is Made at Night, TWBB? While I admire 7th Heaven and have great affection for Lucky Star, History is I think where Borzage's romantic power is at its fullest (and least problematic) blossom. It's where his material is at its closest to obliterating itself in sheer absurdity, but where the dignity of his characters transcends it. Shifts of tone and plot are so perfectly handled as to beggar belief. The conviction of him and his cast is awe-inspiring there, where I think the added adversity of dialogue makes it more of a challenge to navigate the unreality of the scenario, whereas in the silents the unnatural form itself accommodates such miracles.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Frank Borzage

#117 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Apr 17, 2020 12:09 am

Well that sounds right up my alley, I’ll seek it out! I really don’t have the right to declare any masterpiece from Borzage since I’ve barely made a dent in the scheme of things, so recommendations are most welcome. I love Bad Girl the most of the 30s works I’ve seen so far and am not crazy about his 40s stuff from what I’ve seen, but his silents hit me in a spot few others do.

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HinkyDinkyTruesmith
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Re: Frank Borzage

#118 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Fri Apr 17, 2020 1:52 am

History is on Criterion Channel right now––a pretty shit transfer, unfortunately. Let me know if you want a (marginally) better one. It doesn't affect watchability, but it certainly doesn't help.

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whaleallright
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Re: Frank Borzage

#119 Post by whaleallright » Fri Apr 17, 2020 10:18 pm

I just wanted to pop in here to let folks know how Frank Borzage pronounced his last name, because even some people who should know better, don't (...like Whit Stillman in the commentary track to The Last Days of Disco, which he had hoped to call History Is Made at Night). It's "BORE-ZAYG-EE." (Stillman pronounced it so that it rhymed with "corsage.")

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Frank Borzage

#120 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Apr 25, 2020 8:13 pm

HinkyDinkyTruesmith wrote:
Thu Apr 16, 2020 11:45 pm
Have you seen History Is Made at Night, TWBB? While I admire 7th Heaven and have great affection for Lucky Star, History is I think where Borzage's romantic power is at its fullest (and least problematic) blossom. It's where his material is at its closest to obliterating itself in sheer absurdity, but where the dignity of his characters transcends it. Shifts of tone and plot are so perfectly handled as to beggar belief. The conviction of him and his cast is awe-inspiring there, where I think the added adversity of dialogue makes it more of a challenge to navigate the unreality of the scenario, whereas in the silents the unnatural form itself accommodates such miracles.
Finally caught up with History is Made at Night and while it’s too challenging for me to compare Borzage’s strengths in elicitation of emotion in silent vs sound films, I thought this was a terrific tale of the ‘grand romantic gesture’ of existential risk via one-way ticket to high stakes adventure. These types of plots walk the tightrope between being unbelievable contrivances or emotional proclamations of love-conquering-all (though I did have a professor once who claimed to have followed his love interest around the world to profess his love to her, so it’s not necessarily a fabrication!) but this one finds a sweet spot where Paul and Irene engage in this tense dance of attraction while remaining grounded to reality in awareness of consequence.

I loved the use of ‘Coco’ for Irene to express her affection, and the role-playing games that follow; a playfulness that most can probably recognize from blossoming romances in our pasts. The humor worked well too, in gentle warmth like Boyer’s transitional attitude between professionalism and peer loyalty when on the job, or for laughs like the excitable chef interaction descending into exaggerated Italian gibberish near the end.

I wasn’t crazy about the Titanic ending, not only because of the obvious physical metaphor, or because it felt out of step with the micro-intimacy of our participation outlets despite the range of space traversed, but because rest of the departure of attention to our surrogate characters for lengths of time which took me out of the movie during the act when audience involvement is critical to the payoff. Still, despite this detour, the rest of the film worked perfectly, and I appreciate the passion you have for it. Like many films, I could see this one growing on me with revisits, and I’m now hungry for more Borzage.

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HinkyDinkyTruesmith
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Re: Frank Borzage

#121 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Sun Apr 26, 2020 1:02 am

I think revisits will assist your appreciation of it, since you will not longer have to deal with the surprise at some of the more incredible plot developments. For me, it's the little details. I rewatched the Coco scene from it a couple weeks ago, and became entranced by the way Jean Arthur repeats "ask him to ask me to dance." Brought tears to my eyes.

In the words of Maurice Chevalier, isn't it romance!

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Frank Borzage

#122 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Mar 05, 2021 4:44 pm

I liked Bad Girl already, but a revisit prompted me to fall in love with what is certainly the best sound Borzage film that I've seen. What I missed the first time around is just how funny this film is in its first act, with the two women developing a more conservative precedent of the nouvelle vague kittenish vibe, before we descend into the hardened drama of relational miscommunications. This is above all else a wonderfully humble film about communication deficits in domestic partnerships, born from assumed gender roles, western cultural barriers, and lack of environmentally-reinforced skills to be open and transparent as neglected signs of intimacy. The grand gestures and self-conscious withdrawals each partner exhibits are not bombastically Dramatic but quietly conveyed with confidence, as Borzage understands he need not flood us with emphasis to sell the relatable truth inherent in this romantic tragicomedy, because any deep romance is a tragicomedy. Most melodramas anxiously default to a perceived need that they need to take us to exaggerated polar realms to deliver the feeling, but this film is exhibit A in demonstrating that with the right skills you don’t need to try so hard a la Douglas Sirk to make us laugh and cry in authentic rhythms of the banalities of everyday life. I admire Borzage's film for his courage to resist overcompensation, even if, like most, I love a good loud melodrama.

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