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Frank Borzage Vol 2:   Lucky Star + Liliom

 


 

(aka "Estrellas dichosas" or "La stella della fortuna" or "Solstrålen")

 

directed by Frank Borzage
USA 1929

 

With a prizewinning new score from Stuart Hancock, Borzage's long-lost wisp of a romance was made, like Blackmail, in both sound and silent versions (a silent print was rediscovered in the Netherlands Film Museum). It offers two fairytales for the price of one: while Gaynor's poor overburdened farm girl is given a Cinderella-like make-over by her seemingly platonic admirer Farrell, he in turn is abjuring his feelings for her, as the Beast did for Beauty, having come home a cripple from the Great War. His ultimate transformation, if taken literally, is hard to swallow these days; it's also far from clear what the villain of the piece thinks he's up to. Still, Borzage's romantic conception of love - as hard-won, shared innocence buffeting the world's ignorance and exploitation - is assuredly expressed, and the glancing realism of the war and family scenes gives it a firm grounding.

Excerpt of review from Time Out London located HERE

Theatrical Release: August 18th, 1929

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DVD Review:

BFI (Frank Borzage Volume Two) - Region 2 - PAL

DVD Box Covers

 

Distribution BFI
Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 1:35:30
Video

Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.38 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Audio

Silent (Dolby Digital 2.0)

Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen -

Edition Details:
• The River (1929) - Borzage's once-lost masterpiece lovingly reconstructed by Herve Dumont
• Lucky Star commentary by Tom Gunning
• Illustrated booklet, with essays and film notes

DVD Release Date: October 26th, 2009
Keep Case

Chapters 10

 

Comments

In Volume Two of their Frank Borzage collection, the BFI offers another wonderful pairing of films by the rediscovered master. Although the films here are, in my estimation, not on the same level as the two featured in Volume One, the the package has more than enough going for it that I would again recommend it even for those who already own the region 1 Murnau, Borzage, and Fox set.

Like Volume One, the image, and audio tracks are directly ported over from the region 1. However, unlike the the previous release, the transfers here are wonderful. Presented in their original aspect ratios, the films probably look about as good as they did on their initial release. Although there are some scratch marks and occasional instances of other damage, the image quality is quite sharp with strong contrasts between black and whites.

The audio is also better than it is in the other release. The music sounds clear in Lucky Star and predictably there is no interference with background noise. Liliom, which was Borzage's first talkie, features few of the audio difficulties that plagued productions at the dawn of the sound era. The dialogue here is crisp, as is the sound effects and music. Likewise, there are no difficulties with hisses, pops, crackles, etc. The subtitles on Liliom are unobstructed and are always faithful to what is said on screen.

The BFI also presents us with three glorious extras. First, like the Fox set, this volume contains the remnants of Borzage's lost film, The River. Although large gaps of it are missing and the surviving elements leave a lot to desire, its fascinating to watch what's left and imagine what this great film would have looked like in its glory. The disc does, however, contain two extras not present in the Fox set from last year. The first of these is a worthwhile commentary by University of Chicago film historian Tom Gunning. The track is mostly spend pointing out symbolism (typically religious) that may not have been caught on the first viewing, but also delves into the various other aspects of the film. Finally, there is a typically indispensable booklet accompanying this release which has not only a reprinted article from a 1993 edition of Sight & Sound in which the author discusses the themes and tropes of the then newly rediscovered Borgaze, but also has essays on both films. Like other BFI booklets, the scholarship here is top notch and not to be missed by those interested in Borzage's work.

As I said at the outset, I recommend these discs even to those who already own them in the Fox set. The extras new to this edition certainly would justify the double dip at the price of just £10.58 on amazon's UK site at the time of writing this. For those who don't already own these films, this, along with Volume One, are the perfect opportunity to become acquainted with a true American master of early cinema. Highly recommended.

 - Brian Montgomery

 



DVD Menus
 

 


 

Screen Captures

Intertitle Sample

 

 


(Fox (Murnau, Borzage, and Fox) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. BFI (Frank Borzage Volume Two) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Fox (Murnau, Borzage, and Fox) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. BFI (Frank Borzage Volume Two) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 


 

(aka "Frank Borzage's Liliom by Franz Molnar" or "La leggenda di Liliom")

 

directed by Frank Borzage
USA 1930

 

Out of Fereno Molnar's play "Liliom," which was presented here about nine years ago, Frank Borzage has produced a most compelling talking picture, one of the surprises of which is the way Charles Farrell's portrayal of the shiftless, conceited bully, derisively called Liliom, stands up against such competent players as Lee Tracy and Rose Hobart. In the light vocalized works in which he has figured hitherto Mr. Farrell's voice was always an uncertain quantity, but here he reveals confidence in his utterances, and while now and again his pronunciation of some words is not according to dramatic technique, his speech on the whole is an unexpected improvement.

His characterization may be more the result of Mr. Borzage's astute guidance than due to his own understanding or spontaneity, but there is no denying that he has carried out instructions intelligently. The picture is helped greatly by the fine acting of Miss Hobart and Mr. Tracy. It is a courageous adaptation, for in lieu of spoiling the spirit of the Molnar play by capitulating in some fashion to a pleasing ending the producers adhere to the original ideas, taking full advantage of those fantastic episodes dealing with Liliom's journeyings (after he commits suicide) to the regions of Paradise and Purgatory.

The admirable simplicity with which the events are unfurled in the mundane stages of the narrative create a genuine suspense and the closing glimpses of a train that conveys Liliom to the Celestial zone and down to Hades are accomplished with keen imagination and camera wizardry.

Excerpt of review from Mordaunt Hall located HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: October 5th, 1930

Reviews      More Reviews      DVD Reviews

DVD Review:

BFI (Frank Borzage Volume Two) - Region 2 - PAL



DVD Menus
 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

 

 


(Fox (Murnau, Borzage, and Fox) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. BFI (Frank Borzage Volume Two) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Fox (Murnau, Borzage, and Fox) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. BFI (Frank Borzage Volume Two) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Fox (Murnau, Borzage, and Fox) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. BFI (Frank Borzage Volume Two) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


 

 


 

 

 

 

BFI
Region 2 - PAL



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