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Friday, January 31, 2014

Man's Castle (1933)

An independent, tough minded but poor guy (Spencer Tracy) takes pity on a homeless waif (Loretta Young) and brings her home to his shack in a shanty town by the river. She falls hopelessly in love with him while he resists the call of domesticity. This pre-code depression era drama has much in common with some of director Frank Borzage's silent films with Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, notably SEVENTH HEAVEN and one could see this as a silent with those two in the leads. Curiously, Borzage presents both a rather romanticized view of poverty (if you're in love, who cares if you live in a ramshackle shack a strong wind could blow down) yet the depression era trappings are bluntly on view and Borzage has a feeling for the down and out ragamuffins struggling to survive by whatever means available. Tracy is a little rough around the edges with a genuine sexiness that would be neutered once MGM got a hold of him and made him one of their biggest stars and Young is lovely and never more appealing, an appeal she would lose once, like Tracy, she became a Movie Star. Romanticized or not, it's near irresistible. Sadly, the pre-code film was cut by some nine minutes when it was re-issued in the late thirties removing nudity and racy dialogue and this is the only print that survives. Still, there was no way they could disguise that the two lead characters openly cohabit without benefit of marriage. With Marjorie Rambeau (quite good), Glenda Farrell and Walter Connolly.

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