Little Man, What Now? (Borzage, 1934)

Little Man, What Now? (Frank Borzage, 1934)

My adventures through the filmography of Frank Borzage continue with this examination of a poor family’s struggles to keep afloat. Honestly, the film’s premise is both a strength and a flaw. It’s flawed because there are too many instances where the dialogue is overly political and it can really come off as fake. Though some of it is great. There are some instances where the protagonist spews the standard party line where I think this speaks to his characterization (a simple man who knows only of the surface level issues) rather than taking a political stance. It’s times like these where the politics of the film works.

The struggle is also a great tool for bringing  the man and his wife closer. Their financial struggles are present, but it doesn’t cause any excessive melodrama. Basically, Borzage doesn’t let their struggles define them; it’s only a part of them. Strangely, though, I think I enjoyed the movie more when the man had a job and was only able to keep it as long as he pretended to be single and interested in the boss’s daughter. This section of the film had a different sort of conflict, and led to more playful attitudes from the man and his wife. There is a scene where the two are enjoying an afternoon in the woods that is perfect. Ultimately, though, the film has too many flaws. In addition to the aforementioned politically driven dialogue, the cinematography is probably the blandest I’ve seen from Borzage, and the film’s final scene feels tacked on and doesn’t fit the tone of the film.  8.25/10

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