Josef von Sternberg directed, photographed, provides the voice-over narration and wrote the screenplay (from a based-on-actual event novel by Michiro Maruyana translated by Younghill Kang) ... See full summary »
12 million Americans are out of work. Trina is homeless and hungry when Bill takes her under his wing, showing her a squatter's camp where she can live. She's soon in love with him, making a castle for him inside a shack; but he's bluff, gruff, and a "bindlestiff," a guy who can't stay put. When Trina tells Bill she's pregnant, he's ready to jump a freight train and move on, but first he wants to leave Trina with some money, so he partners up with Bragg, the camp's louse (who's been eyeing Trina), to rob a toy manufacturer. He's shot and the cops are closing in: does he have any options? Written by
Man's Castle is a wonderful example of a Pre-Code film. It involves realistic events with truly enjoyable and imperfect characters. Spencer Tracy plays Bill, a free soul without a dime in his pocket. He makes a living doing odd jobs and traveling to a new city when he gets bored of his surroundings. One night, he meets Trina, a beauty by any standards who is cold and alone. She has refused to resort to prostitution so she has not eaten for several days, but the two take very well to each other and form a relationship. His free spirit tempts him to leave her, so life is rocky, but there is a true spark between the two, even if they live in a shack by the river.
Tracy is one of the great actors of the silver screen. His characters are amazing and relatable. We can see his thoughts on his face, making him easy to identify with, even if we believe he is behaving badly. Young is great in pre-code films. Her character is very sweet but far from perfect, making her all the more likable.
Pre-code elements include skinny dipping, pregnancy before marriage, and crime.
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