Dir: Frank Borzage/ Prod: William Fox/ Writing credits: Sonya Levin (after Tristan Tupper), John Hunter Booth (dialogue)/ Cast: Janet Gaynor, Charles Farrell/ USA/ 1919/ 87mins
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 correctly. 

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.

Timothy Foster

Silent Revolution: What Do Those Old Films Mean? - Box Set VHS Silent Revolution: What Do Those Old Films Mean? – Box Set VHS

THE SILENT REVOLUTION was originally a six part series that aired on England’s Channel Four Television and was conceived by film historian Noel Burch. THE SILENT REVOLUTION explores the early days of film in six different countries – Great Britain the US Denmark France the USSR and Germany from a historical social political and cinematic perspective. Contains all six episodes. Ships internationally (see the check-out)


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