Two By Frank Borzage

Director Frank Borzage (1894-1962) may be best known to classic film buffs for his sound films, such as the Oscar winning Bad Girl (1931) with Sally Eilers, A Farewell to Arms (1932), the Joan Crawford pictures Mannequin (1937) and Strange Cargo (19401), the 1941 version of Billy the Kid, the 1941 remake of Smilin’ Through, and the all-star time wartime rabble rouser Stage Door Canteen (1943). But Borzage’s credits stretch back to the early days at Fox, where he was first an actor in things like A Mormon Maid (1917), before becoming a protege to Murnau. His better known silent films include Humoresque (1920), Get-Rich-Quick-Wallingford (1921), and 7th Heaven (1927), which won him the very first Oscar for Best Director.

Two of these silent features, Back Pay and The Valley of Silent Men have just passed the century mark, and to mark it Undercrank Productions and the Library of Congress have collaborated on a new home video release of both films, available in DVD and Blu-Ray, with a score and commentary by Andrew Earle Simpson. Both films were produced for Hearst’s Cosmopolitan Pictures and released by Paramount, yet don’t star Marion Davies!

Back Pay is a romantic melodrama based on a Fannie Hurst story, adapted for the screen by Frances Marion. It co-stars Seena Owen (then-wife of George Walsh), and Matt Moore. Valley of Silent Men is a western, shot in Canada, and stars Alma Rubens and Lew Cody. The latter especially promises some of the lush visuals Borsage is known for. The films are accompanied by an 11 minute mini-doc called A Turning Point: Frank Borzage at Cosmpolitan, and feature the option of a sub-title commentary track (vastly superior to an audio one, I think!) featuring info about locations and other tidbits.

Get yours now! More info here at Undercrank Productions.