My first Borzage in a while. Jean Arthur is leaving her rich boatbuilder husband Colin Clive (Dr. Frankenstein himself), so he pays a dude to visit her room and, ahem, “forcibly seduce” her. Charles Boyer interferes, knocking the guy down, then an enraged Clive murders the dude just to pin the crime on Boyer.
That’s all the first few minutes – bulk of the movie is Jean and Charles falling in love over fine food and dancing, palling around with over-exhuberant chef Cesar (Leo “Pancho” Carrillo), on the run until the husband takes her hostage again.
This was released to theaters two months before the Hindenburg exploded, so it wasn’t meant to be foreboding. But we all remember the Titanic, don’t we folks – when Jean flees on Clive’s own ship to testify for Boyer, Clive orders the ship to go ever faster through icy waters until it smashes into icebergs. He writes a confession letter and shoots himself, but joke’s on the big dramatic baby because the passengers survive.
Dan Callahan for Criterion:
In other Borzage movies, the lovers are often threatened by war or poverty, but here they are threatened by the madness of one powerful and relentless man … This is one of the key love stories of the thirties and of all time because it refuses to follow rules and gathers up as many moods and genres as it can before itâ€™s too late.