Lucky Star ★★★★

Lucky Star (Frank Borzage, 1929) 8/10

Third silent film featuring the popular star team of Charles Farrell and Janet Gaynor. The first two, 7th Heaven (1927) and Street Angel (1928), were also directed by Frank Borzage both of which won Gaynor an Oscar at the first ceremony. In between those two films Borzage directed The River (1928), also with Farrell, in which the star appeared nude - the first time a major star appeared in the buff on screen. This gentle little fable is set in an expressionist setting - the country side looks highly theatrical with weird angled architecture giving it a strong european flavour although it is supposed to be somewhere in the United States. A wild young urchin (Janet Gaynor) - she is unkempt, lies and steals - lives on a farm with her mother and befriends two men both of whom go off to Europe when war is declared. When they return the farm boy (Charles Farrell) has lost both his legs and is in a wheelchair while his smooth talking sergeant (Guinn "Big Boy" Williams) makes moves on her but has no plans to marry her. Her mother pushes her towards him thinking marriage will change her fortunes. However, she has eyes only for the paraplegic. Simple story has many sweet moments between the two as they court each other - he washes her hair, gets her to wear clean clothes and she sparkles with all the attention she has never received at home. The fairy tale ending is completely in keeping with the tone of the film. Both Farrell and Gaynor are luminous throughout and would end up making a dozen films together. This film was believed lost until a print was discovered in Netherlands in the vaults of a film museum where it was restored. Originally it had some scenes filmed with sound but this version remains lost with only the silent one surviving.