In 1918 a simple Mongolian herdsman escapes to the hills after brawling with a western capitalist fur trader who cheats him. In 1920 he helps the partisans fight for the Soviets against the... See full summary »
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
MGM head Louis B. Mayer hated the film. He insisted that a new ending be shot, set in a mansion showing John and Mary by a glittering Christmas tree. John has become a success at writing ad slogans. Mary's new dialogue title was to read: "Honest, Johnny, way down deep in my heart, I never lost faith in you for a minute." See more »
When a distraught John creates a ruckus at his office and leaves, shouting he's giving up his job, his suit is ragged and torn as he tussles with other workers. In the next scene, at home, his suit coat is perfect with no damage to it at all. See more »
[Advice to Johnny as he leaves on his honeymoon]
Don't forget to pull down the shades.
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" (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1928), directed by King Vidor, is a story about the average man, a born dreamer who promises but doesn't deliver, and his struggle to succeed and fight financial ruin. While top-billing goes to Vidor's wife, Eleanor Boardman, the movie belongs to an unknown named James Murray, who, in his debut performance as a movie actor, gives a remarkable performance as an ordinary American man with high ambitions.
The story about this common man begins on the 124th birthday of America, July 4th, 1900, in which a doctor delivers a baby boy to the Sims household. The baby boy is named John. The next scene finds John, now age 12, sitting on a wooden fence with his buddies, all discussing what they want to be when they grow up. John tells the other boys that he has big plans for his future, that he's going to be somebody really big. Suddenly a horse pulling ambulance stops in front of the Sims home. As Johnny rushes to see what's wrong, he is told by his mother that his father has died. Before the fade-out, this scene follows the boy with the shock-filled face walking alongside his mother up a long flight of stairs to be his father for the very last time. Years pass. Now John Sims (James Murray), age 21, has left his small town existence for a new life in New York City with great ambition to succeed. He later obtains an office job by day and goes to school at night. One evening, Bert (Bert Roach), John's co-worker and friend, persuades him to skip his studies and go on a double date with him and Jane (Estelle Clark). John is introduced to Jane's friend, Mary (Eleanor Boardman). John and Mary become acquainted, and after spending the fun evening in Coney Island, John proposes marriage to her as they return home by subway. Against the advise of her brothers (Daniel G. Tomlinson and Dell Henderson), Mary marries John. Over the years John and Mary become the parents of two children, a boy called Junior (Freddie Burke Frederick) and a girl (Alice Mildred Puter). While all seems to be going right for John, his marriage starts to fall apart as Mary gets fed up with John's constant promises he fails to keep, the loss of one of his children followed by the loss of his job, and depression leading John to a brink of suicide.
While MGM is best known for producing top-notch films headed by top-named stars, "The Crowd" features none of those elements. Instead of heading the cast with box office draws as John Gilbert and Norma Shearer, who could easily have played John and Mary, director Vidor uses his actress wife, Boardman, and an unknown he picked from the crowd named James Murray, supported by actors not known for anything more than minor character parts, such as Bert Roach, Lucy Beaumont as Mary's mother; and a crowd of street extras. What makes this movie so remarkable today is that the leading players are so real. John and Mary could be anybody watching this film. And the best of all, they aren't faked with glamour and sophistication that best expresses MGM movies. John and Mary are just ordinary people going about their ordinary lives. They love, quarrel and make up again. And whether "The Crowd" was actually filmed on location in New York City or not doesn't really matter. The feel of The Big Apple is there from the early sequence in which John observes New York City from the Hudson River ferry to the family having a picnic gathering on the beach on Coney Island; as well as the camera panning through the skyscrapers of the big city which leads to that now famous shot to the overhead view of a gigantic office with rows of desks and white-collar workers in their nine to five jobs.
The characters of John and Mary Sims were presented on film once again by King Vidor in an independent film titled "Our Daily Bread" (United Artists, 1934) starring Karen Morley and Tom Keene in the roles originated by Boardman and Murray. While Morley and Keene almost physically resemble their predecessors, what a treat it would have been if Boardman and Murray reprised their roles in the talkie sequel which depicts the Sims couple (sans children) struggling through the Depression by starting a farming community. By then, Boardman retired from acting and Murray was, like the character he played in "The Crowd," a man with ambition who fails to meet with success. Murray's reported drowning death in 1936 remains a mystery as to whether it was suicide or accidental. It's no wonder why Murray was so good in playing John Sims. He was really starring in his own life story, and didn't know it.
"The Crowd" was one of 13 MGM silent features that premiered on New York City's public television station of WNET, Channel 13, September 28, 1973, on MOVIES, GREAT MOVIES, hosted by Richard Schickel, with movie accompanied by an original score produced for this series. It was also one of the movies I recall watching every time it showed mainly because of an ordinary story that succeeds in holding my interest from start to finish. It's still a remarkable even today, ranking it one of the best silent movies ever produced. Out of circulation for more than a decade, "The Crowd" was distributed on video cassette in 1989 with a new Thames Orchestra score conducted by Carl Davis. At the running time of 104 minutes, "The Crowd" currently plays on Turner Classic Movies on a shorter length of 93 minutes. It's been mentioned by TV hosts, including Robert Osborne of TCM, that "The Crowd" was not an initial success, but thanks to frequent revivals in recent decades, it has been hailed, rightfully, as a cinematic masterpiece. (****)
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