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The Docks of New York (1928)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 29 September 1928 (USA)
A blue-collar worker on New York's depressed waterfront finds his life changed after he saves a woman attempting suicide.

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(story and screenplay), (titles) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Mae
...
His Wife - Lou (as Baclanova)
...
Mitchell Lewis ...
Andy, the Third Engineer
...
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Storyline

Bill Roberts works as a stoker on a coal-red barge. It's dirty, hard work and the men have to put up with a foreman, Andy, who seems to enjoy making their life miserable. When finally off the ship, Bill sees a young woman struggling in the water - apparently trying to commit suicide. He takes her to the Sandbar saloon, the sailors' hangout. The girl is Mae and Bill takes a shine to her but so does Andy. One thing leads to another and Bill asks her to marry him then and there. They don't have a marriage ;licence however and despite Bill promising to get one first thing the morning he decides to leave her behind. When she gets into trouble however, Bill steps in. Written by garykmcd

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Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

29 September 1928 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Docks von New-York  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the '1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die', edited by Steven Jay Schneider. See more »

Quotes

Bill Roberts: I've always been like this. There ain't no power on earth that could ever keep me ashore!
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Connections

Featured in Historia del cine: Epoca muda (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A masterpiece
3 January 2005 | by (Copenhagen, Denmark) – See all my reviews

Of course, no waterfront in the world was ever as deliciously seedy as set designer Hans Dreier's in this amazingly atmospheric and evocative masterpiece of late silent cinema. The story is rather tawdry, cheapish even, but plots are very rarely the point of a movie anyway, and Josef von Sternberg has made the perfect film out of next to nothing.

'The Docks of New York' is about a rough and ready stoker, Bill (George Bancroft), on leave for the night. He goes to the Sandbar and gets into a brawl with Hymn-Book Harry (the ever sleazy Gustav von Seyffertitz), and on the way back saves a young girl, Mae the tough kookie (Betty Compson) from drowning herself. Slowly they sorta kinda fall in love and he marries her on the spur of the moment, but what will they do the next morning when Bill is supposed to sail off again? The most astonishing thing about 'The Docks of New York' is its subtlety. We have no heroes or simplified villains here, just people who have had a hard time all their lives and are reluctant to be redeemed. The concept of love in this sneering, loud-mouthed environment is completely alien. "I hope you have better luck than me", says Olga Baclanova's character to Mae on her way to the slammer, "but I doubt it". It is Baclanova who says on the subject of decency that she was decent "before I got married".

It goes without saying that the film is acted as naturalistically as anything we see today, that Compson & Bancroft absolutely shine as the unlikely lovers, grittily played and with no sentimentality. The lighting is superb, photography stupendous, direction acute, and the edition you are most likely to see looks fabulous.


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