History is Made at Night (1937): Borzage’s Romantic Melodrama Starring Jean Arthur and Charles Boyer

Borzage’s History Is Made at Night begins as a screwball-comedy, when socialite Irene Vail (Jean Arthur) and handsome head waiter Paul Dummond, (Charles Boyer) are immediately smitten upon meeting.

Irene’s estranged husband, shipbuilder Bruce Vail (Colin Clive), is insanely jealous, and so he arranges for the ship on which his wife and her lover are travelling to hit an iceberg. But then appalled by his own deed, Clive commits suicide.

As the ship gets close to sinking beneath the waves, the terrified passengers huddle on the deck. The fog-enshrouded scene in which the lovers reaffirm their love in the face of death is emotionally touching as only a skillful as Frank Borzage can orchestrate.

The last chapter, a happy ending, reasserts the comic and romantic tone of a tale that could have easily become too corny and sentimental.

Running time: 98 minutes.

Directed by Frank Borzage.

March 5, 1937