Big City (1937): Frank Borzage’s Sentimental Drama, Starring Luise Rainer and Spencer Tracy

Oscar winner Frank (Bad Girl) Borzage directed Big City (aka Skyscraper Wilderness), a sentimental drama starring Luise Rainer and Spencer Tracy.

Big City
Big City 1937 poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster


Spencer Tracy and Luise Rainer, both fresh off of their Oscar wins plays Joe and Anna Benton, a couple suspected of starting a taxi war.

Although innocent, they are blamed for everything that has happened and the officials demand that Anna be deported from the U.S. While trying to prove their innocence, the couple feels forced to hide.

The film also casts popular sports figures, including Jack Dempsey, James J. Jeffries, Jim Thorpe, and Frank Wykoff in minor comic roles.

Not one of Borzage’s good works, the film is also disappointing in the acting of the two leads.

Even so, the movie was popular at the box office, earning $906,000 in the U.S. and $695,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $462,000.

Luise Rainer as Anna Benton
Spencer Tracy as Joe Benton
Charley Grapewin as Robert, the Mayor
Janet Beecher as Sophie Sloane
Eddie Quillan as Mike Edwards
Victor Varconi as Paul Roya
Oscar O’Shea as John C. Andrews
Helen Troy as Lola Johnson
William Demarest as Beecher
John Arledge as Bud
Irving Bacon as Jim Sloane
Guinn “Big Boy” Williams as Danny Devlin
Regis Toomey as Fred Hawkins
Edgar Dearing as Tom Reilley
Paul Harvey as District Attorney Gilbert
Andrew Tombes as Inspector Matthews
Clem Bevans as Grandpa Sloane
Grace Ford as Mary Reilley
Alice White as Peggy Devlin
Paul Fix as Comet Night Watchman (uncredited)
Ray Walker as Eddie Donogan, Independent Cab Driver (uncredited)
George Godfrey as himself


Directed by Frank Borzage
Written by Norman Krasna, Dore Schary, Hugo Butler
Produced by Borzage, Krasna
Cinematography Joseph Ruttenberg
Edited by Frederick Y. Smith
Music by William Axt

Production company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed by Loew’s Inc.

Release date: September 3, 1937

Running time: 80 minutes
Budget $621,000
Box office $1,601,000