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Critics reviews
Man's Castle
Frank Borzage United States, 1933
Like LITTLE MAN, MAN’S CASTLE is obviously a pre-Code film, free in its sexuality but also downbeat in its assessment of human nature. (One reissue apparently moved the mid-film wedding ceremony to the first reel, to better contextualize the infamous skinny-dipping sequence, morally speaking.) Right when you think you know where MAN’S CASTLE is going, it swerves into new emotional territory. Borzage’s concluding show of faith is one of the great revelations of American cinema.
September 18, 2015
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Working with a script by Jo Swerling that adorns the streetwise action with a colorful, caustic vocabulary, the director, Frank Borzage, finds sanctified tenderness in the poignant absurdities and grubby brutalities of gutter-level striving. As with a scintillating set piece for a determined process server and his cynical target, he veers from humor to heartbreak in record time.
February 18, 2013
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A sprawling vision of Hooverville, the slum is reminiscent in its charmingly ramshackle domesticity of Chaplin and Paulette Goddard’s makeshift home inModern Times. Yet Borzage’s poignant, lived-in approach to melodrama doesn’t allow for the same brand of sentimentality: the director, from an extended immigrant family, was himself raised in poverty, and there’s a marked humanity in the way he dramatizes the plight of the poor.
July 30, 2012
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MAN’S CASTLE has yet to acquire a large fan base, but it deeply affects new audiences with every revival. Its director, Frank Borzage, possessed “the most romantic sensibility” in the cinema (pace Dave Kehr), and the film is remarkable for how it maintains that sensibility in the face of recent tragedy.
October 24, 2008
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