Toronto Film Society presented History is Made at Night (1937) on Monday, November 25, 1974 in a double bill with Alice Adams as part of the Season 27 Monday Evening Film Buff Series, Programme 1.
Production Company: A Walter Wanger Production, released through United Artists. Director: Frank Borzage. Producer: Cy Walter. Screenplay: Gene Town, Graham Baker, Frank Borzage. Additional Dialogue: Vincent Lawrence, David Hertz. Art Direction: Alexander Toluboff. Photography: David Abel. Special Technical Effects: James Basevi. Musical Direction: Alfred Newman. Editing: Margaret Clancy. Costumes: Bernard Newman. Sound Recording: Paul Neal. Assistant Director: Lew Borzage.
Cast: Charles Boyer (Paul Dumond), Jean Arthur (Irene Vail), Leo Carrillo (Cesare), Colin Clive (Bruce Vail), Ivan lebedeff (Michael), George Meeker (Norton), Lucian Prival (Detective Witness), Georges Renavent (Inspector Millard), George Davies (Maestro), Adele St. Mauer (Hotel Maid).
Four of Frank Borzage’s large output of films have been previously screened by Toronto Film Society: Lazybones, a sensitive look at rural America; A Man’s Castle, a shanty-town love story of the depression; Little Man What Now, an anti-Nazi film far ahead of its time; and Seventh Heaven, a World War I drama, whose open-hearted romance and fine atmospheric qualities gained him an Oscar and made his reputation. To describe Borzage as a ‘romanticist’, as many critics do, disparages his extraordinary talents. He was an expert technician with a unique feeling for camerawork and design. His typical films are distinguished by the special aura that he imparts to his characters. He was capable of making his actors discard Hollywood’s usual cynical attitude towards love and his films create a world that belongs exclusively, mystically, to lovers–those blissful people endowed with a luminous rapport even in the midst of poverty and oppression.
History is Made at Night is a fairy tale that adroitly combines melodrama with comedy, farce with tragedy. Being a fairy tale it takes place in a mythical city, Paris; presents a pair of star-crossed, tender lovers; treacherously involves them in a murder; then threatens their lives with a jealous, sinister villain. It is a “profound expression of Borzage’s commitment to love over probability”. An ingratiating cast manages to keep the preposterous plot moving swiftly and enjoyably.
Charles Boyer earned his reputation as an exotic lover in Hollywood. A versatile actor, he possesses a delightful sense of humour, which shows to advantage in tonight’s film. Later he played far more sinister pars and, as he aged, adapted to character roles.
Talkies were the perfect medium for Jean Arthur, with her husky, wise-cracking voice and marvellous comedy style. Highly individual, yet she personifies the screen image of the average American girl of the depression years–tough and resilient. Her blonde good looks and admirable talent were employed by many of the top directors of the period: John Ford, Frank Capra, Howard Hawks.
Leo Carrillo deserves special applause for Cesare “the best chef in the world”.
Notes by Aideen Whitten
PLEASE NOTE: All members of the Film Buff Series are invited to attend the screening on Monday, December 9th, 1974, at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, as Guests of Toronto Film Society. Just show your Film Buff membership card at the door. The Programme, which starts at 8:00 PM, is:
The Raven USA 1963 directed by ROGER CORMAN with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson.
The Comedy of Terrors USA 1963 directed by JACQUES TOURNEUR with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone.