Nan, a racketeer's daughter, is in love with The Kid, a shooting gallery showman. Despite Nan's prodding, The Kid has no ambitions about joining the rackets and making enough money to ... See full summary »
In a juke joint, sharecropper Zeke falls for a beautiful dancer, Chick, but she's only setting him up for a rigged craps game. He loses $100, the money he got for the sale of his family's ... See full summary »
Daniel L. Haynes,
Nina Mae McKinney,
The idle son of a rich businessman joins the army when the U.S.A. enters World War One. He is sent to France, where he becomes friends with two working-class soldiers. He also falls in love... See full summary »
George W. Hill
A feud, the origins of which can barely be remembered, has been boiling for decades between two sheltered mountain families, the Tollivers and the Falins. With plans to build a railroad ... See full summary »
After accidentally killing the man who raped her and forced her into prostitution, a New Orleans woman flees to a Caribbean island. While she awaits her fiancé, the vicious local police chief sets his sights on her.
William A. Wellman
A lonely husband, whose wife has been away, hires a look-a-like impersonator to fill his place and fool his mother-in-law while he plays around with a pretty coquette. His wife returns that night and confusion prevails.
Edward Everett Horton,
Laura La Plante
In a hot summer afternoon in New York, Emma Jones gossips with other neighbors of her residential building about the affair of Mrs. Anna Maurrant and the milkman Steve Sankey. When the rude Mr. Frank Maurrant arrives, they change the subject. Meanwhile, their teenage daughter Rose Maurrant is sexually harassed by her boss Mr. Bert Easter; however, she likes her Jewish neighbor Sam that has a crush on her. On the next morning, Frank tells that is traveling to Stanford on business. Mrs. Maurrant meets the gentle Sankey in her apartment, but out of the blue Frank comes back home in an announced tragedy. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The entire tenement district set including the elevated station was built on the back lot of the United Artists Studio in Hollywood. If you look closely at the end of the street under the twin staircases that go up to the train station you'll see they used a huge painted backing to extend the street. See more »
Unforgettable slice of life from infancy of sound era
King Vidor's Street Scene, from the infancy of the sound era, may be cinema's quintessential slice of life. Drawn from the 1929 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by Elmer Rice so many movies from the earliest 1930s were little more than filmed stage plays Street Scene surmounts the limitations of its time and its material to achieve the status of a minor milestone in movie history. It's dated, occasionally clumsy, but unforgettable.
Street Scene's microcosm is a brownstone in a Manhattan tenement block during a scorching heat wave. The residents, in their various comings and goings, loiter on its front stoop to catch a stray zephyr and exchange some gossip. The gossip-in-chief is Beulah Bondi, a dried-up streel griping that she doesn't have a `dry stitch' on her (Vidor permits himself a cheeky shot of her, shot from below and behind, when she furtively unsticks her house dress from her, well, person).
Incidental players include a henpecked young husband whose wife is about to go into labor; an elderly Jew spouting socialist rant; his son, a non-violent college man with a crush on a gentile girl; cheerful Italians and dour Scandinavians; pinched and bitter social workers; gasbags, mashers and inebriates.
After reviling the weather with immemorial cliches, the characters turn wickedly to their chief topic: the milkman's suspicious visits to a married woman upstairs. (Her daughter, the central character in the drama -- Sylvia Sidney -- makes a later entrance but will ring down the curtain.) Meanwhile, the characters carry on city life in a rough-and-tumble of casually aimed racist barbs, sanctimonious judgementalism, and general acceptance of the notion that one's neighbors' lives are the reality television of the day, to be viewed with gusto. The potent cocktail of slander and humidity will have fatal results.
Vidor employs his talents adroitly. The movie's first `act' stays stubbornly crouched on that stoop, but gradually Vidor opens up his stage in a series of tilts and pans so that the brownstone becomes but one cell in a bustling urban organism. (Technically, it's precocious, and the story's dramatic `climax' arrives in a montage that may elicit smiles but still remains impressive.) Surviving current attitudes about political correctness and convincing `realism' (that most elusive of artifices), Street Scene endures as haunting, human experiment among the finest of the first `talkies.'
Note: Rice's play was later to become the libretto to Kurt Weill's Broadway `opera' Street Scene.
16 of 19 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?