Sunday, October 17, 2004
|5:30 p.m.||Seventh Heaven|
Frank Borzage (U.S., 1927)
Judith F. Rosenberg on Piano
Along with Sunrise, one of two masterpieces porcelain Janet Gaynor made in 1927—she received the very first Best Actress Oscar for her work that year—and no one, except perhaps Murnau, made silent movies as lyrically powerful as Borzage's. Gaynor plays an impoverished waif who falls in love with a sewer worker (Charles Farrell in perhaps the best of the nine movies he made with Gaynor) who first sees her from his humblest of stations beneath a grate in a curb. The film's delicate and patient accumulation of lynchpin details limn out upon its melodramatic trappings the straits of real human hearts in love, suffusing the fabulous tale with a breezy freedom to transcend plausibility, to fly like a dream. The final staircase sequence should be as famous as any climax in film.
• Written by Benjamin Glazer, from a play by Austin Strong. Photographed by Ernest Palmer. With Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell, Ben Bard, David Butler. (123 mins, Silent, B&W, 35mm, From The Museum of Modern Art, permission 20th Century Fox)