Frank Borzage (Who’s Who at MGM, 1937) 🇺🇸

January 07, 2022

Watching Frank Borzage direct a picture, the novice is likely to believe that it is easy work. It is Borzage’s conviction that natural acting is the only sort that counts for anything. For that reason, he reduces rehearsals to a minimum. Repetition, he believes, is the death of spontaneity.

Borzage was born in Salt Lake City on April 23. His father, a successful rancher, gave the boy a good education. Frank went to work in a mine, saved his money and spent it on a correspondence course in drama. When he learned that he had spent his good money for worthless training, he quit his job and joined a road troupe as property boy.

Started in Westerns

Within three years he was playing character roles. They toured the tank towns and the Western mining camps. It was a rough, restless and revealing life and it served its purpose.

At 19, young Borzage drifted to California. He was strong and bronzed and fearless. In a brief time he was playing bit roles in pictures for $5 a day. The late Tom Ince met him and watched his work. Presently, he appeared in a series of Ince films, playing the lead. They were nearly all Western stories, then in the heyday of their popularity.

A cow-pony inevitably outdistanced those newfangled automobiles and in the end justice always came to the rustler at the lower end of a rope.

Borzage took an immediate interest in directing and, after several minor efforts, he directed “Humoresque.” It was adjudged the finest picture of the year. Since that time he has directed such hits as “Seventh Heaven,” Bad Girl, “A Farewell to Arms,” “A Man’s Castle,” “Little Man, What Now?” and “Flirtation Walk.”

Polo and Flying Fan

The director joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and his first engagement was to direct “Big City.” His next picture was “Mannequin,” by Katharine Brush, with Joan Crawford and Spencer Tracy.

Away from his work, Borzage is an ace polo player, a moderately good golfer and a competent pilot. He flies a Waco F2. His wife, Rena, also is a pilot and, like her husband, a first-rate navigator. They divide their recreation hours between flying and sailing. They have been married 15 years.

Borzage is five feet, ten inches in height, weighs 175 pounds and has curly brown hair and hazel eyes.

It is considered a privilege in Hollywood to be the Borzage guest, for he and his wife are host and hostess of rare charm and engaging hospitality. Because of their varied activities and their keen interest in an intelligent life, they rank as one of the happiest couples in the film colony.

Pictures Make Money

Borzage directs pictures as he guides his own affairs, with keen judgment born of experience. He is the artist, who also regards art as a commercial product. Art that is undesirable to the world, in his opinion, is wasted effort.

Borzage believes in beauty, but he does not overlook the box office. His pictures all make money. Having been an actor himself, he makes particular effort to understand the problems of actors. His criticism may be biting, at times, but it is invariably constructive. And usually, he eliminates the sting with a smile.

Although he would deny it, Frank Borzage is something of a mystic. A colorful career has equipped him with a peculiar understanding of humanity. He does not lose his temper. His work is his greatest pleasure and he works without apparent effort.

Source: Who’s Who at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937