Director: Frank Borzage
Year Released: 1927
This Borzage silent lost to Wellman's Wings at the First Academy Awards ceremony, although eighty years later this is still impressive and Wings is just a bunch of aviation footage. 'Remarkable' sewer worker (Charles Farrell) - who dreams of 'moving up' in the world to street cleaner (a relatively modest aspiration) - takes pity on an abused woman and lets her move in with him, but just as they fall in love, WWI starts and he has to fight for France. The performances are lovely (particularly Janet Gaynor, who earns praise just for the scene where she whips her tyrant sister) and the ending is touching and bittersweet: the picture is unashamed of its spirituality, and insists that true love between two pure souls has not simply a physical but also a metaphysical dimension. Farrell's apartment is almost another character, and surely one of the most memorable - and cozily romantic - flats in movies (it's on the seventh floor, high above the dirty streets and dirtier sewers).