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Lucky Star

Posted by martinteller on April 5, 2013

Mary Tucker (Janet Gaynor) is a farm girl, selling dairy and produce around town.  Tim Osborn (Charles Farrell) works on the phone lines.  One day, Mary is delivering milk to the phone men.  She tries to cheat them out of a nickel, but at that moment, war is announced.  Before Tim goes off to enlist, he gives Mary a spanking for her dishonesty.  Two years later, Mary sees Tim in his house and breaks one of his windows.  As she’s readying another stone, she sees that he’s in a wheelchair.  The two get to talking and spending time together.  They fall in love.  But their love will be challenged by Mary’s disapproving mother (Hedwiga Reicher), the conniving suitor Wrenn (Guinn Williams), and Tim’s disability.

Borzage has a wonderful flair for romance.  To use a tired cliché, Mary and Tim complete each other.  She is his life force, the only thing that gives him spark in dark days.  She inspires him, to the utmost.  And he is her guiding hand, her moral compass.  He tells her to obey her mother, even when it goes against their deepest desires.  Thanks to stellar performances by Gaynor (Sunrise) and Farrell (7th Heaven), the two have a natural chemistry.  It seems impossible for them not to be together.  When Tim washes Mary’s hair, although it isn’t played up as lurid or titillating at all, there’s an intense sensuality to it.  It’s a beautifully intimate scene.

The cinematography is outstanding.  The snowstorm finale is breathtaking, where the snow is both intimidating and gentle.  Borzage uses light like nobody’s business, people and objects have a warm, luminescent haze around them.  It’s as if light is trying to burst out of them.  The framing is thoughtful and the compositions are elegant and eye-catching.

I’m having grand luck with silents this week.  A gorgeous film with a lot of soul.  Heartbreaking and heartwarming.  Rating: Great (89)


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