Oscar Directors: Borzage, Frank–Multiple Oscar Winner

Frank Borzage, Winner of Two Best Director Oscars

Borzage is considered to be one of Hollywood’s great romanticists, a director who made love stories, which are well acted and laced with warm tenderness and lyrical touches.

Born April 23, 1893 in Salt Lake City, Borzage joined a touring stage company as a group boy and eventually became an actor.

In 1912, he began playing bit parts in Ince films in Hollywood.  He continued playing both heavies and leads in Ince Westerns and Mutual comedies.

By 1916, he was directing for Universal, mostly quickie melodramas and Westerns, in which he also often starred.

Borzage’s first important film, Humoresque (1920), contains many of the elements that would recur in his work.

Borzage was one of the first Hollywood filmmakers to use the soft focus as a visual device.  The beautiful imagery of Borzage’s films, combined with a fluid camera movement, gave his stars an idealized look that often contrasted sharply with the cruel socio-political contexts around them.

Borzage is often dismissed by some historians as a sentimentalist, even though he was one of Hollywood’s most consistent directors as far as work quality is concerned.

Borzage’s reputation reached its peak in the late silent and early sound eras, producing the largest part of his film output.

He had won two Oscar Awards as Best director, for Seventh Heaven (1927), starring Janet Gaynor (who also won Best Actress for the film), and for Bad Girl (1931).

 

Among Borzage’s other memorable films are “Lazybones,” “Street Angel,” “The River,” “A Farewell to Arms,” “Man’s Castle,” “No Greater Glory,” “Desire,” “History Is Made at Night,” “Three Comrades,” and “The Mortal Storm.”

His films of the 1940s and 1950s were less interesting.

He died in Utah in 1962, at the age of 69.

Oscar Alert

Borzage is the Winner of Two Directing Oscars

In 1929, the first year of the Oscars, which honored films made in 1927 and 1928, Borzage won the Directing Oscar for Seventh Heaven in a contest that included Herbert Brenon for Sorrell and Son, and King Vidor for The Crowd.

In 1932, Borzage won the Directing Oscar for Bad Girl, competing with King Vidor, nominated for The Champ, and Josef Von Sternberg, in his only nomination, for Shanghai Express, starring Marlene Dietrich.

Career Analysis:

Output: large body of work

Career Longevity: 38 years (1913-1961); up until his death

Death:

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1914: 4

1915: 3

1916: 20

1917: 4

1918: 9

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Filmography

The Mystery of Yellow Aster Mine (1913)

The Battle of Gettysburg (1913)

Samson (1914)

The Wrath of the Gods (1914)

The Geisha (1914)

The Typhoon (1914)

Knight of the Trail (1915)

The Pitch o’ Chance (1915)

The Pride and the Man (1915)

Dollars of Dross (1916)

Life’s Harmony (1916)

The Silken Spider (1916)

The Code of Honor (1916)

Two Bits (1916)

A Flickering Light (1916)

Unlucky Luke (1916)

Jack (1916)

The Pilgrim (1916)

The Demon of Fear (1916)

The Quicksands of Deceit (1916)

Nugget Jim’s Pardner (1916)

That Gal of Burke’s (1916)

The Courtin’ of Calliope Clew (1916)

Nell Dale’s Men Folks (1916)

The Forgotten Folks (1916)

The Forgotten Prayer (1916)

Matchin’ Jim (1916)

Land o’ Lizards (1916)

Immediate Lee (1916)

Flying Colors (1917)

Until They Get Me (1917)

A Mormon Maid (1917)

Wee Lady Betty (1917)

The Gun Woman(1918)

The Curse of Iku (1918)

The Shoes That Danced (1918)

Innocent Progress (1918)

Society for Sale (1918)

An Honest Man (1918)

Who Is to Blame? (1918)

The Ghost Flower (1918)

The Atom (1918)

Toton the Apache (1919)

Whom the Gods Would Destroy (1919)

Prudence on Broadway (1919)

Humoresque (1920)

Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford (1921)

The Duke of Chimney Butte (1921)

Back Pay (1922)

Billy Jim (1922)

The Good Provider (1922)

The Valley of Silent Men (1922)

The Pride of Palomar (1922)

The Nth Commandment (1923)

Children of the Dust (1923)

The Age of Desire (1923)

Secrets (1924)

The Lady (1925)

Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (1925)

The Circle (1925)

Lazybones (1925)

Wages for Wives (1925

The First Year (1926)

The Dixie Merchant (1926)

Early to Wed (1926)

Marriage License? (1926)

Seventh Heaven (1927)

Talkies (Sound Films)

Street Angel (1928)

Lucky Star (1929)

They Had to See Paris (1929)

The River (1929)

Song o’ My Heart (1930)

Liliom (1930)

Doctors’ Wives (1931)

Young as You Feel (1931)

Bad Girl (1931)

After Tomorrow (1932)

Young America (1932)

A Farewell to Arms (1932)

Secrets (1933)

Man’s Castle (1933)

No Greater Glory (1934)

Little Man, What Now? (1934)

Flirtation Walk (1934)

Living on Velvet (1935)

Stranded (1935)

Shipmates Forever (1935)

Desire (1936)

Hearts Divided (1936)

Green Light (1937)

Green Light (1937)

History Is Made at Night (1937)

Big City (1937)

Mannequin (1937)

Three Comrades (1938)

The Shining Hour (1938)

Disputed Passage (1939)

I Take This Woman (1940)

Strange Cargo (1940)

The Mortal Storm (1940)

Flight Command (1940)

Billy the Kid (1941)

Smilin’ Through (1941)

The Vanishing Virginian (1942)

Seven Sweethearts (1942)

Stage Door Canteen (1943)

His Butler’s Sister (1943)

Till We Meet Again (1944)

The Spanish Main (1945)

I’ve Always Loved You (1946)

Magnificent Doll (1946

That’s My Man (1947)

Moonrise (1948)

China Doll (1958

The Big Fisherman (1959)

Journey Beneath the Desert (1961) (Only some sequences, uncredited)

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