Born on the fourth of July, 1900, the future holds unlimited potential for newborn John Sims. But dreams soon fade with the death of his father when John is but a lad. Like many before him, John sets out to make his mark in New York City, but ends up a faceless worker (#137) in a large office of a large business. Still he is happy with his fate and soon meets a young woman named Mary on a blind double date. Things take their course and they soon marry and live in a small apartment. Soon John is bickering with Mary and finds that he has no love for the in-laws. When the marriage looks like a bust, he finds that Mary is with child and he stays. After 5 years, he has a son and a daughter and the same dead end job. When tragedy strikes, John must find the conviction to continue or lose what little he has left.Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
Several years after the film was made, alcoholism had taken its toll on lead actor James Murray, who was reduced to panhandling in the street. Ironically, one of the passers-by he solicited for money turned out to be King Vidor, who offered him a part in the film's semi-sequel, Our Daily Bread (1934). Murray declined the offer, thinking it was only made out of pity. He died in 1936 at the age of 35 in a drowning incident. Vidor was sufficiently compelled to write his life story as an unrealized screenplay, which he called "The Actor". See more »
After John sprays himself with milk when opening the bottle, his clothes go from covered with milk to clean from one shot to the next. See more »
Picnic my eye! I'm doing the same things I do every day!
Don't crab, dear. Everything's goin' to be roses... when my ship comes in.
Your ship? A worm must be towing it down from the North Pole!
See more »
MGM forced director King Vidor to film seven different endings to the film, giving exhibitors the chance to pick a happy or sad one as they pleased. Not a single exhibitor chose to use a happy ending. See more »
"The crowd laughs with you always, but it will cry with you for only a day"
The most remarkable thing about 'The Crowd (1928)' is that is manages to cover so much emotional ground. John (James Murray) is a young man who knew from an early age that he would become somebody special, that he would stand out from the crowd. At age 21, he travels to New York, the towering metropolis introduced via a montage of impressive high- angled shots that resemble Robert Florey's 'Skyscraper Symphony (1929).' John joins the accounting sector of a large insurance firm, and studiously assures himself that he need only work his way up. Years pass. John marries, has two children. It takes him five years to realise that he has become what he swore never to become: a member of The Crowd.
Vidor's message is a double-edged sword. Early in the film, The Crowd is something to be loathed: the camera, in a virtuoso display of technical brilliance, swoops down upon a seemingly-endless room of seated accountants, each man turning pages in mechanical unison. (Billy Wilder later paid homage to this scene in 'The Apartment (1960)'). But when John finally determines to break free from The Crowd, his world falls apart around him – he can't maintain a job, his wife threatens to leave him, he loses his dignity. The film's ending is intriguing in its ambiguity: John is absorbed into the crowds of a laughing theatre audience.
Is it a happy ending, an embracing of conformity? Is it ironic, an acknowledgment of mass delusion? Is Vidor integrating his character into the cinema audience? In 'The Bicycle Thief (1948),' a similar disappearance into the crowd is viewed as tragic, but here I'm not so sure. F.W. Murnau's 'The Last Laugh (1924)' told a similar tale, depicting the bleak prospects of a working-class doorman, played by Emil Jannings. UFA studio thwarted that film by enforcing a ludicrous happy ending that Murnau included only with a snide introductory title card. M-G-M also toyed with a happy ending to 'The Crowd,' but fortunately Vidor's version ultimately won out, a conclusion genuinely unsettling in its uncertainty, and sure to inspire discussion.
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