Friday, September 02, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Stranded (1935) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

STRANDED (1935) is an enjoyable film starring the appealing team of Kay Francis and George Brent. It's available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

I first saw STRANDED in 2008, and I became interested in revisiting it thanks to my recent review of Francis and Brent in the same year's THE GOOSE AND THE GANDER (1935).

STRANDED was directed by Frank Borzage and scripted by writer-director Delmer Daves. While STRANDED may lack the lush romanticism of some Borzage films, such as HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT (1937), it does have some of the interesting socioeconomic commentary found in other Borzage films like LITTLE MAN, WHAT NOW? (1934).

Francis plays Lynn Palmer, who works for the charitable association Travelers Aid. As the "lady with the badge" she helps travelers passing through a San Francisco train station, while also helping the local poor to locate jobs and housing.

Mack Hale (Brent) is an engineer working on the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, where he fights off the extortion efforts of the appropriately named Sharkey (Barton MacLane), who wants "protection money."

Mack had been attracted to Lynn when she was a teenager but she was too young at the time and he moved on. Reunited at the train station, sparks fly between Mack and Lynn instantly, with marriage likely to follow in short order. However, conflict over Lynn's job ultimately puts a damper on things. Will this relationship work out?

It's a fast-paced 72-minute film which is enjoyable for multiple reasons. I'm surprised more films didn't utilize the building of the Golden Gate Bridge, a massive undertaking which opened in 1937. There's a lot of studio work mixed in with stock footage, but even the brief glimpses of the project are interesting, and it makes for a unique story point.

I knew nothing of Travelers Aid before first seeing the film; Travelers Aid was founded in 1851 and still exists today. Based on the history on the Travelers Aid website, the depiction of Lynn's job is accurate, including providing train passengers with miscellaneous information and helping unaccompanied traveling minors. During WWII Travelers Aid joined other organizations to help form the USO, aiding troops in transit.

Francis and Brent, who made many films together, are always an appealing team. The film's "battle of the sexes" adds another entertaining angle; Mack's initial attitudes toward both Lynn being employed and her specific job seem antiquated today, but (no surprise) he comes around by movie's end. Although it's amusing that one of the last things Lynn tells Mack at the end is not to be humble and lose his arrogance, because she likes him arrogant!

The supporting cast includes Patricia Ellis, Robert Barrat, Donald Woods, Joseph Crehan, Henry O'Neill, John Wray, and Sam McDaniel.

STRANDED was shot in black and white by Sid Hickox.

The Warner Archive print is nice and crisp for the most part, while some scenes, especially in the final reel, are softer and have occasional scratches. Sound quality is excellent throughout.

There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


Blogger Jerry E said...

Amazing what we can learn from a film made over 80 years ago. Plus the footage used of the construction of the bridge is a real piece of social history.
A fun watch obviously, Laura!

2:09 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Definitely one of many great things about classic films, Jerry! A movie which isn't well remembered today yet was interesting and educational for multiple reasons. I love when a movie causes me to dig further in Google afterwards. :)

Best wishes,

3:07 PM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

You might look for another Borzage with Francis and Brent made close to this one, LIVING ON VELVET, which I personally like better--found it very affecting. That said, I did enjoy this when I saw it.

10:30 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, Blake! LIVING ON VELVET is in my collection via a TCM recording, I'll look forward to seeing it!

Glad you found this an enjoyable watch as well.

Best wishes,

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds a must see. Thanks for highlighting it. Brent and Francis make a good team.

12:49 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Let me know what you think when you catch up with it, Vienna! I agree, I like them together very much.

Best wishes,

8:18 PM  
Blogger Holey Moley said...

The best thing about this film, now on TCM, is the refusal by Lynn to leave the job she loves because her lover demands that she become a full time wife concerned only with his needs. An unusual resolution (for the time) is the capitulation in the end by her suitor that she is right and he is wrong. Nearly every film from the 30s through the 50s concludes with complete conversion by the woman from independence to total surrender to her man. Lynn's remark about him keeping his arrogance is obviously about her affection for a personality trait, not about giving in.

6:09 AM  

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