Borzage had a gift for making actors seem sincerely enamored with each other. In this scene and numerous others, a wave of uncynical emotion overwhelms the sophisticated dialogue. One feels carried along through the film, the tonal complexity registering only later.
The sublime sequence with Taylor throwing out his wristwatch when the ailing Sullavan becomes unsettled by its tick-tock ("Now time stands still"), however, is undiluted Borzage. Yet lyricism cannot quite dissipate the darkening clouds: An exalted, ascending camera movement dissolves to a graveyard, the gunshots heard in the distance grow louder in The Mortal Storm.
THREE COMRADES brought together an improbable confluence of talent, all trying to find a way to work around the implacable censoriousness of the Hollywood system. . . . And yet Borzage found a way to work around these constraints to build a film of trembling beauty, positing love as a force not bound by time or space.