Made all the more poignant by
his striking resemblance to the actor Christopher Reeve,
Charles Farrell portrays a victim of the Great War who
falls in love with the girl back home. Shot for Fox from 4
February to 20 April 1929, LUCKY STAR’S remarkable
emotional power clearly implies that Frank Borzage knew it
to be his last chance at a silent – a testament, as it
were, to the vast possibilities of the medium that he had
fallen in love with, some sixteen years before.
The story begins in 1917
rural New England. Poor and dirty, Mary meets Tim Osborne,
whose job is to install electric power lines for a bad
guy, Martin Wrenn. The United States enters the war. Tim
is sent to the French front with Wrenn, who is a sergeant.
Due to Wrenn’s self-interest – he wants to womanise
at the local village rather to than deliver rations to the
front line – Tim gets shot in the legs and becomes
paralysed. Two years go by. Looking through his lit
window, Mary notices Tim in his wheelchair. She sells
him groceries and tries to charge him too much for them.
Despite the fact he is dependent on her mobile store, he
insists the prices for her food are the same for him – an
invalid – as for anyone else.. She grows
closer to him and he represents the only element of truth
and uprightness in her life of misery. Wrenn’s return puts
this ‘unconscious’ link to the test. With a final
flourish, Borzage lets love conquer all, going so far as
allowing Tim to walk again.
Borzage excelled in
capturing the tender moment when reciprocated feelings are
confessed. In the middle of four reels, Mary brings Tim
groceries and he shows her little gadgets he has invented.
He cooks her a meal, and does a little wheelchair dance
to make her laugh. When she is nervous about going to
the town dance, he makes sure her ribbon is tied
In 1998, Silent Sound Films
held a nationwide competition to find a composer for this
romantic masterpiece. A symphonic score, composed by
Stuart Hancock and performed by The Tempus Chamber
Orchestra, conducted by Stuart Morley, accompanied a
highly succcessful screening of LUCKY STAR at the Royal
Festival Hall in February 2001.