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Film / Man's Castle

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Man’s Castle (1933) is a pre-code era drama directed by Frank Borzage, starring Spencer Tracy and Loretta Young.

It’s the The Great Depression: Trina (Young) is so hungry that she jealously eyes Bill (Tracy) as he feeds pigeons popcorn. Taking pity on her, he takes her out to eat, but it turns out he can’t pay either. Bill is a hobo by choice, and he invites her to live in his current shantytown. After a few weeks, Trina has made a little home for the two of them while Bill chaffs at the idea of commitment as his drifter habits get the best of him.


This work shows the following tropes:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Bragg to Trina. At the climax, he almost gets his chance to rape her but Flossie comes to her rescue.
  • The Alcoholic: Flossie’s always looking for little bit of a drink.
  • As the Good Book Says...: As a former priest, Ira (played by Walter Connolly) is constantly quoting the bible and trying to get Bill to read it.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Trina is a blue-eyed beauty who puts up with Bill's rough personality more than she should, but she's patient and kind to him.
  • The Chanteuse: Fay La Rue (Glenda Farrell). Bill serves a summons on her during her singing act and beats up her bodyguards in the process. But she thinks he’s pretty cute.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Averted. Trina just wants Bill to be happy and doesn’t want him to feel trapped in their relationship.
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  • Crapsack World: It is the Great Depression…
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Flossie kills Bragg for no other reason but to get him out the way of our protagonists.
  • The Drifter: Bill never stays in a town for more than a month, and he’s only stayed in New York for so long because of Trina.
  • Honorable Marriage Proposal: Once Bill finds out that Trina is pregnant, he does the right thing and marries her. But it makes him feel even more trapped.
  • Hidden Depths: Bill. He’s scared about Trina’s pregnancy: he runs away at the thought of the responsibility of being a father and being tied down. But he feels guilty and comes back. When Trina tells him that he’s free to do whatever he likes, he breaks down into tears at the idea of being away from Trina and not being there to see his child grow up.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Bill. By today’s standards, he comes of as bully-ish and rough, but he does prove to be a decent man.
  • Justified Criminal: Bill, wanting to run away from Trina but feeling like a total cad if he doesn’t leave her with some money, decides to steal from the toy store Ira works at with Bragg.
  • Manly Tears: Bill sheds some near the end.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: Bragg rats out Bill after their badly conceived robbery just to get him out the picture and get Trina into his grasp.
  • Perpetual Poverty: The main characters: they have a little shanty home, and Bill works whenever he needs just a bit of money to keep them from starving.
  • Pet the Dog: Bill forges Babe Ruth’s signature on a baseball for a little kid he meets while on his way to work.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Trina first meets Bill while he’s dressed in white tie and tails, but it turns out it’s just a costume for an advertisement for a restaurant.
  • Skinny Dipping: Just to show it’s a pre-code, Bill and Trina go skinny dipping in the Hudson River.
  • Streetwalker: Averted. Trina admits that she could never muster the courage to become a prostitute and that’s why she’s starving.