Notes on “That’s My Man”

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:


This late Frank Borzage picture is about a compulsive gambler (Don Ameche) whose mojo is all bound up with the fate of a thoroughbred that he raises from a colt. Borzage and screenwriters Steve Fisher and Bradley King treat Ameche’s failings tenderly: his gambling is an extension of his pride — his belief in his own worth — and even when he’s acting like a jerk you understand what it is that’s driving him. It helps that Ameche treats the horse, which is named Gallant Man, so, well, gallantly: he continually goes out of his way to spare the animal the humiliations that he so readily takes upon himself. (The horse is a projection of Ameche’s noblest instincts, a proxy for the part of himself that he won’t allow to be hurt or sullied.) As you’d expect of a movie made by Borzage, “That’s My Man” is lovingly directed, and several scenes have the self-contained quality of a good piece of music. Of particular note are Ameche’s wedding night with bride Catherine McLeod, which is set in a shabby hotel room overlooking a twinkling amusement park (shades of “7th Heaven”), and a relaxed introductory sequence in which the couple meet cute while attempting to arrange overnight lodging for the young Gallant Man. The latter sequence, wherein the kick-happy colt destroys McLeod’s China while Ameche slyly romances her, plays like very serene screwball comedy. The end is predictable enough, and much of the summing-up dialog is woeful in its let-me-tell-you-what-you’ve-just-seen obviousness, yet there’s satisfaction in watching Borzage draw up the threads of his story and make a neat bow of them.


About Fabrizio del Wrongo

Recovering liberal arts major. Unrepentant movie nut. Aspiring boozehound.
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