"Upstream" is an early film in the directorial career of the great John Ford. However, I saw no hints of greatness in this one and felt the story was rather unremarkable.
The film begins in a boarding house for would-be actors. Most of them barely got by and success seemed to elude most of the residents. In this atmosphere, a young actor named Brashington (subtle name, huh?) falls for the assistant to a knife-thrower. However, their romance is interrupted when Brashington is discovered and he's soon the toast of the London stage. It's obvious this guy's success has gone to his head and he envisions himself to be the next John Barrymore (that's why he kept emphasizing his profile--much like Barrymore used to do). In the process, he forgets about the girl and his friends. Time passes and he returns for a visit--and arrives on the day the girl is marrying the knife-thrower! What's next? See this film.
Earle Foxe played Brashington and you can only assume that the director encouraged him to really ham it up and play the role with absolutely no subtlety whatsoever. As a result, he comes off as more a caricature than a real person and the film is therefore very, very weak. Additionally, the story is amazingly simple--too simple--to be taken very seriously. Not a bad film but certainly not a very good one either. It's hard to imagine Ford made this--especially because around the same time, he's made a few decent films (such as "3 Bad Men") and would make one of the truly great silent films only a year later ("Four Sons").
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