"No director has shown better than he the intimate warmth of human love in a profoundly united couple," film historian Georges Sadoul has written of Frank Borzage. "His lovers are rarely isolated from their environment but are carefully depicted as part of their times, most commonly crisis-ridden America. In addition to his understanding of human relationships and his poetic tenderness, he had a social awareness and many of his films express a hatred of war." By these standards, Humoresque, only his second film in a forty-year career, already borders on vintage Borzage. Set in a beautifully and meticulously recreated Jewish ghetto circa World War I, it is the story of a mother whose prayers that her son become a musician are answered-just before the boy is called away to the front. He comes back disabled and struggles to reunite with his fiancée. Even in this silent version, Borzage highlights two musical segments-the singing of Kol Nidre and the playing of "Humoresque"-simply by focusing on the faces of the listeners. Vera Gordon, according to a 1920 Variety review, "was born to live, not to act (the) part" of the mother. Rarely shown in any form, our tinted print of Humoresque is a recent UCLA Film Archives restoration.

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