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Sunday, May 9, 2021

History Is Made At Night (1937)

After his wife (Jean Arthur) leaves him, a pathologically jealous millionaire (Colin Clive) frames his wife's lover (Charles Boyer) for murder and blackmails his wife into staying with him or else he'll turn her lover in to the police. Directed by Frank Borzage (THE MORTAL STORM), this is one of the greatest of movie romances to come out of Hollywood. When filming started, there was no finished screenplay and the Titanic inspired finale was written into the film a mere two weeks before it was filmed (which necessitated re-filming some earlier scenes for it to make sense). It's a hybrid of a film, really: part romantic comedy, part thriller, part disaster movie, part film noir, part melodrama. That it works at all is something of a miracle. But work it does and its lyrical romanticism is pure Borzage. Both Boyer and Arthur are working outside of their comfort zone. No longer a wise cracking comedienne, Arthur brings a genuine pathos to the wife attempting to escape an abusive marriage and Boyer brings a warmth and humor to an ordinary man (not the French lover cliche). You're rooting desperately for this pair to find happiness together as circumstances work against them. With Leo Carrillo (who almost steals the film) and Ivan Lebedeff.

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