History Is Made at Night | Chicago Reader

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97 minutes · 2013

Drama, Romance
Frank Borzage, the most radiant romantic sensibility of the American cinema, is represented here by one of his warmest, most perfect works (1937). Maitre d' Charles Boyer meets unhappy American Jean Arthur; he takes her for a late-night tango in a Paris bistro and the sign that they have fallen in love comes when she kicks off her shoes—she trusts him enough to dance barefooted. But Arthur has a husband, a sadistic shipping magnate (Colin Clive) who forces the lovers to separate; when they meet again, it's aboard an ocean liner, steaming on a collision course with an iceberg. Borzage uses every resource of mise-en-scene—lighting, camera movement, depth of focus, and cutting—to create a separate enchanted environment for his characters. It is melodrama, certainly, but melodrama played with so much conviction and exquisite sensitivity that all the viewer's defenses are destroyed.

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