MoMA Presents

Tay Garnett’s Her Man

May 27–Jun 10, 2021


Her Man. 1930. USA. Directed by Tay Garnett. Courtesy Pathé Exchange/Photofest

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Unquestionably the most down-and-dirty version of “Frankie and Johnny” ever filmed, Tay Garnett’s 1930 feature Her Man is set in a Havana bordello populated by a definitively Pre-Code, almost Bukowskian collection of drunks, drug addicts, and hookers. It is also an astonishing formal accomplishment—a film from the early sound period that features extreme long takes and an almost constantly moving camera, techniques 10 years ahead of their time. Likely inspired by Jimmie Rodgers’s 1929 hit recording of the folk song, Garnett adds details to the classic plot by imagining Frankie (Twelvetrees) as a Havana “showgirl,” Johnny (Cortez) as her pimp, and, adding a new character, an American sailor (Holmes) who holds out the possibility of redemption. A favorite of Henri Langlois, Her Man was first seen at MoMA in 1967, as the opening presentation in a program of treasures from the Cinémathèque Française. In 2015, the long-lost camera negative was discovered in the Columbia Pictures collection at the Library of Congress, and digitally restored to its present beauty by Sony Pictures Entertainment with special funding from the Film Foundation.

Organized by Dave Kehr, Curator, Department of Film. Thanks to Grover Crisp, Sony Pictures Entertainment.

  • This film series is part of Virtual Cinema and MoMA Presents.

    Film at MoMA is made possible by CHANEL.

    Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black and by Steven Tisch, with major contributions from The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Karen and Gary Winnick, and The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston.


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