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Napoleon needs money to fight his wars in Europe so he wants 20 million dollars for the Louisiana Territory in the United States. To help the negotiations, he sends his brother, Jerome, to the U.S. on a goodwill tour. At a Maryland Horse Track, Jerome shows up without notice and soon wins an afternoon tour with Betsy. He falls for her, but she will have little to do with him. She is currently being courted by Henry, John and Harry. The next day, Jerome gets a job teaching Betsy French and they soon fall in love. The family dissuades this as they believe that he is but a tutor. When they meet again at a reception in Washington, Betsy consents to marriage, but Napoleon wants Jerome to marry into European Royalty and demands that Jerome do what is in the best interests of France. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
First thing to do is to forget history (I will not argue with American history,but as far as French history is concerned,well..): No,they did not live happily ever after ,for the marriage was finally broken ,and Jerome had more mistresses than you could count.No,Madame Mère -who briefly appears to sweeten her offspring's relationship- did not probably intervene.
But it does not matter when you deal with Frank Borzage,my favorite American director of the twenties/thirties.To say he gave it his all is diminish this director ,because there was always more to give,another passion to plumb,another open wound that demanded he raises his voice ;no one depicted love (against the whole world) as he did.In consequence ,the best scenes are to be found in the second part of the film:Marion Davis ,"translating" the letter into English in a voice chocked with emotion;the scene on the ship where the unfortunate lovers raises their glasses before the bell ring -this scene is similar to the ones we find in "Humoresque" before the hero goes to war ,and in "Street angel" when Janet Gaynor says goodbye to his love (who does not know it's a farewell celebration).In "Hearts divided" the sequence is too short ,and somewhat ruined by the final scenes although the song and the wall are romantic stuff.
As everything Borzage did ,"Hearts Divided" is a movie which deserves to be watched.I will not rate it as highly as Borzage's true masterpieces ("Seventh Heaven" "Street Angel" "Little man what now?" "A farewell to the arms" "Strange Cargo" or the immortal "Mortal storm") though.
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