Three Comrades (Borzage, 1938)
A cute little romantic love story, a weird tale of friendship, a few stunning scenes, and a clunker of an ending. Borzage’s take on Fitzgerald is uneven but pleasant. Having not read the source material, I can’t really make comparisons, but I found it odd that Borzage (who is normally a master of relationships) could be so erratic. As is commonplace with him, the film’s romantic plot is perfect. Our male protagonist is nervous but bold, unafraid to put himself out there despite his shy and bumbling persona. His lady is no stranger to life, but finds his innocence contagious, and Margaret Sullavan nails this realistic blend of contrasting personalities.
But then there is the relationship between the three comrades. The way they ‘share’ Sullavan’s character is perplexing and just weirded me out. Sorry, I don’t have any real insight here other than I think someone really didn’t know how to handle this. The actual relationship between the three men is fine, though, and leads to one of the most haunting scenes of revenge I’ve seen, so at least there’s that. But every time the film’s romantic momentum started to pick up, it was often interrupted and made for a more disjointed experience than what it could have been. 8/10