7.7/10
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31 user 42 critic

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.

Writers:

Jules Furthman (story and screenplay), John Monk Saunders (suggested by "The Dock Walloper" by) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
3 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
George Bancroft ... Bill Roberts
Betty Compson ... Mae
Olga Baclanova ... Mrs. Lou Roberts (as Baclanova)
Clyde Cook ... 'Sugar' Steve
Mitchell Lewis ... Andy, the Third Engineer
Gustav von Seyffertitz ... Hymn Book Harry
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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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In washed the tide. Picked from the driftwood at the waterside. A woman, sullen, weary, disillusioned. And a ship's stoker, ashore for a rollicking rouser. A Josef von Sternberg masterpiece (Print Ad- The Observer, ((Newberry, SC)) 26 March 1929)


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 September 1928 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Docks von New-York See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Donald Sosin composed his score in 2008 for the Ritorato Festival in Bologna with vocals composed and sung by Joanns Seaton. The 2010 score by Robert Israel includes such vintage songs as "East Side, West Side," "Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage," "Bicycle Built for Two," "Strawberry Blonde, and "After the Ball Is Over". See more »

Quotes

Mae: I've had to many good times.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Video version includes new score by Gaylord Carter. See more »

Connections

Featured in Histoire(s) du cinéma: Les signes parmi nous (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A masterpiece
3 January 2005 | by mik-19See 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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