Year: 1935

Cast: Kay Francis, George Brent, Warren WIlliam

Terry Parker (Brent) walks away from a plane crash that kills his family. The loss causes him to feel massive guilt since he was the pilot, and makes him feel as though he’s living on borrowed time, making him preoccupied with death and danger, with his head constantly in the clouds. He meets Amy Prentiss (Francis), who is engaged to his best friend, Gibraltar Pritcham (William). They fall in love, and Gibraltar loves both of them enough to let them be together. They marry, and while Amy tries to be supportive, the marriage runs in to difficulties due to Terry’s problems.

Living On Velvet is exactly the kind of film where Borzage seemed most at home – the small, intimate romances. Borzage had a fixation on the relationship between love and spirituality, and this is one of his most literal uses of those themes. Terry’s struggle comes from his issues with spirituality, wondering why he didn’t die along with his family and coping with the thought that he doesn’t belong on this earth. When Amy enters the picture, there’s a mingling not just of their spirits, but of their spiritual ideals. Terry doesn’t know how to bring his closer to Amy’s earthier and realistic ones.

While Francis’ solid performance and character anchor the film, it’s heart and soul is Brent’s Terry. The film is about Terry’s changing spirit and his rebirth. Amy is the catalyst for this rebirth, and his anchor throughout. The dialogue of the film shows constantly that she completely understand him, that their minds and spirits are linked. So often Terry doesn’t have to speak for Amy to know what he wants to say.

As the film goes on is becomes clear that Amy is more than wife, she’s also acting as Terry’s mother. Terry is little more than a child. He can’t be expected to follow simple instructions without allowing his mind to be preoccupied with more romantic and dangerous ideas. He can neither act like an adult husband or like a member of the society to which he belongs until he’s overcome his problems.

Early in the film, it is Gibraltor who is in the role of supporter until Amy enters the picture and takes over that role. But whereas Gibraltor seemed to be an enabler, Amy gently prods Terry into fighting his demons. This leads to a very interesting revelation between the characters that love is not enough to sustain their relationship, and not enough to fill the void in Terry’s soul.

Year: 1927
Cast: Charles Farrell, Janet Gaynor, Ben Bard, Albert Gran, David Butler, Marie Mosquini, Gladys Brockwell, Emile Chautard
Story: Chico (Farrell) saves Diane (Gaynor) from her abusive sister. When the cops want to throw Diane in prison for prostitution, Chico saves her again by claiming she’s his wife. He has to bring Diane home with him so they can appear married. While living together, the two fall in love and plan to marry, but Chico is called away to war.


Year: 1925
Cast: Buck Jones, Zasu Pitts, Madge Bellamy, Edythe Chapman, Leslie Fenton, Jane Novak, Emily Fitzroy, William Bailey
Plot: Steve Tuttle (Jones), aptly nicknamed Lazybones, has a doting mother (Chapman) and a beautiful girlfriend named Agnes (Novak), but no direction in life. He meets Agnes’ sister, Ruth (Pitts), as she’s attempting to drown herself. She has a child from a secret marriage and now the husband is dead. Steve agrees to take care of the child, who he names Kit. Nobody believes that Kit isn’t Steve’s illegitimate daughter, and Agnes leaves him. Steve gets sent to war, and when he returns Kit has grown into a young woman (played by Madge Bellamy), and Steve finds himself falling in love with her.

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Year: 1933
Cast: Spencer Tracy, Loretta Young, Glenda Farrell, Marjorie Rambeau, Walter Connolly, Arthur Hohl
Plot: Bill (Tracy) meets hungry and jobless Trina (Young) on a park bench. He takes her back to the Hooverville he calls home and the two set up a house together. Bill dreams of jumping a train an getting away, trying to deny the fact that he’s fallen in love with Trina, who’s completely in love with him.


Hurrah! Here’s the second Blog in my Obscure Classics blogring. I adore the hell out of Frank Borzage and I want to share that love with everyone.

I have write ups for several of Borzage’s film already written up for Rotten Tomatoes, so this site should come together pretty quickly, even though I’ll still be working on the Madge Evans blog, hopefully getting the main blog on track, and planning other blogs for the ring.