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Sidewalks of New York (1931)

Passed  -  Comedy | Crime  -  26 September 1931 (USA)
5.5
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Ratings: 5.5/10 from 238 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 5 critic

A dim-witted slumlord tries to reform a gang of urban boys (and impress an attractive young woman) by transforming their rough neighborhood into a more decent place.

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(story), (story), 3 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Harmon
...
...
Frank Rowan ...
Norman Phillips Jr. ...
Clipper
Frank LaRue ...
Sergeant
Oscar Apfel ...
Judge
Syd Saylor ...
Mulvaney
Clark Marshall ...
Lefty
Edit

Storyline

A dim-witted slumlord tries to reform a gang of urban boys (and impress an attractive young woman) by transforming their rough neighborhood into a more decent place.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Nothing but laughs!

Genres:

Comedy | Crime

Certificate:

Passed
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 September 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Buster hat nichts zu lachen  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Buster Keaton's most commercially successful film to date - to his chagrin, since he made it under protest at MGM's insistence and felt that the studio would feel justified in ignoring his artistic opinions in the future. See more »

Goofs

Lefty's pistol, a six shot, is fired twice before Harmon tosses the remaining cartridges into the fireplace. Five bullets subsequently explode in the fire. See more »

Quotes

Judge: Mr. Harmon, are you hard of hearing?
Harmon: Were you speaking to me?
Judge: YES! ARE YOU HARD OF HEARING?
Harmon: No, are you?
See more »

Connections

Featured in So Funny It Hurt: Buster Keaton & MGM (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Marche Slave, Op.31
(1876) (uncredited)
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Played a bit in the play
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Nobody would remember or watch this if not for Buster
11 July 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The directors of this film, Jules White and Zion Myers, were the directors of the successful Dogville Comedies at MGM. They were rewarded by being given a feature film to direct, that film being Buster Keaton in Sidewalks of New York. I'm sure Keaton was insulted being considered one step above canine stars at MGM, by reading his biography I know he was angry at the autocratic ways of Jules White who was used to directing four-footed stars and thus went about telling Buster how to be Buster. On top of that, their ideas of comedy just did not mesh. Jules White liked mayhem as comedy. This served him well at Columbia with the Three Stooges, but not here with Buster.

The story revolves around wealthy Homer Van Dine Harmon (Keaton) who has sent his assistant (Cliff Edwards) out to collect the rent at the tenements he owns. Edwards is sent home without the rent money and shoe prints on his face. Homer returns to the East Side with Edwards in tow to get the rents himself and winds up in the middle of a neighborhood fight between the kids on the street. At the same time he meets the older sister of one of the tougher kids, Margie (Anita Page), and falls in love at first sight. Margie's brother Clipper is on the verge of getting into serious trouble with the law by hanging around with hoodlum Butch. Homer decides - partly out of real concern for the kids, partly out of pining for Margie - to build a gym where the kids can play safely and get off of the streets and away from bad influences like Butch. Needless to say Butch is unhappy about this development and decides to get rid of the meddlesome Homer when he instructs Clipper to turn what is supposed to be a harmless play into an opportunity for a fatal accident. Will Clipper go through with it? Will Homer get the girl? Watch and find out.

There is one part of this film that is genuinely funny and inspired, and that is when the shy Homer is trying to figure out how to propose to Margie. He follows Cliff Edwards into a record store and Edwards has Homer use the titles of popular songs as the material for his proposal and record the whole thing. This seems to be working out quite well until Homer hits the last song title Cliff holds up, at which time he makes a comment that doesn't quite fit the rest of the recording and is certainly no way to conclude a proposal. This gag was good enough that Buster refurbished it years later when he was a gag writer on "Neptune's Daughter" and he used it in a scene between Red Skelton and Betty Garrett.

This film was a real disappointment to me overall. The gags largely consist of chases, food fights, and prolonged routines that have no sense of timing and just get tiresome. If not for the fact that this film is part of Buster Keaton's filmography I'd say avoid it entirely and find something more worthwhile to do with 74 minutes of your life. Since it is Keaton, it's probably worth one viewing just to say you've seen it.


5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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