Archive for September 9, 2018

The Sunday Intertitle: Fifty Shades Dorker

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on September 9, 2018 by dcairns

More Borzage… THE CIRCLE is a drawing-room comedy, I guess, set in Hollywood England. A very young Joan Crawford appears briefly (Borzage would go on to have a fling with her, but didn’t everyone?). Eleanor Boardman is top-billed but Creighton Hale is the true lead — without his usual glasses, but with a monocle, which doesn’t have quite the same Harold Lloydian effect. Hale (SEVEN FOOTPRINTS TO SATAN) is the man Kenneth Anger accused of having sex with a goat on screen, but he definitely wasn’t talking about this film. It’s about fidelity and marriage and asserting one’s manhood by fending off one’s wife’s suitors, which isn’t the kind of “romance” that really suits Borzage, so far as I can see.

It takes Hale the whole movie to stand up to his competitor, and about half the movie to even emerge as the protagonist.

Borzage is distinctive because he was able to pursue a very particular vision and tone, defying reality like Baron Munchausen in pursuit of a dream of love. He had a particular gift for the gestures and expressions of flirtation and first attraction. This delirious romanticism inspires most of his best films, though any strong emotion could serve him well. Looking at love in decay, at the stuff that traditionally happens AFTER the happy ending, is not his bag at all. Which means that the two adulterous couples in the film, who AREN’T supposed to win our good wishes, are somehow more compelling that the leading man’s plight.

Visually, the film is consistently gorgeous, with every exterior a magic hour extravaganza of hazy backlight.


THE CIRCLE, Warner Archive edition, was a gift from a reader but I’m afraid I forget who! Thank you anyway, I got around to watching it eventually!