A criminal known as Thunderbolt is imprisoned and facing execution. Into the next cell is placed Bob Moran, an innocent man who has been framed and who is in love with Thunderbolt's girl. ... See full summary »
Having just reached adulthood, Clyde Griffiths has always lamented his lot in life, he the only son of poor missionaries. He has gotten a peripheral view of society life, to which he aspires, in his work as a bellhop at an upscale hotel. If being truthful to himself, he would admit that he lacks moral strength, he often taking the easiest but perhaps not the most ethical path to protect himself. Forced to move from place to place out of circumstance, he ends up in Lycurgus, New York working at the Samuel Griffiths Collar and Shirt factory, Samuel Griffiths his paternal uncle. Not knowing his uncle or his family, Clyde only wants a chance to get ahead, not expecting anything else from his wealthy relations. After an apprenticeship, Clyde ends up as the foreman in the stamping department. Despite a company rule forbidding foremen to fraternize with staff, especially those working in the same department, Clyde begins an affair, a clandestine one out of necessity, with Roberta Alden, who ...Written by
A play, also based on the novel as is this film, opened on Broadway at the Longacre Theatre, 220 W. 48th St., on October 11, 1926 and ran for 216 performances until April, 1927. A revival was put on at the Waldorf Theatre, 116 W. 50th St., beginning February 20, 1931 and ran for 137 performances until June, 1931. See more »
This seems much closer to the facts of Theodore Dreiser's great novel than the soapy 50s version, good in its own way, with Montgomery Clift.
Even with florid Josef von Sternberg directing, the film follows the basic plot of the novel although there seem to be a few holes. Still, the courtroom scene is electric and makes this all worth it. I also like the casting of Phillips Holmes as Clyde. Holmes is able to capture the bizarre passions and inability to really care that embody Clyde. His subtle performance in the courtroom scenes, as he slowly breaks down and loses any sense of truth under the barrage of lawyers, is quite excellent. His voice goes higher and thinner as he becomes just a frightened boy answering the stupid questions posed by the sadistic and ambitious lawyers.
Sylvia Sidney is quite good as the tragic Roberta, and Frances Dee captures the haughty attitudes of the wealthy of that era. Charles Middleton and Irving Pichel play the lawyers. And Lucille LaVerne plays Clyde's mother.
This was a big hit in its day and helped establish Holmes and Sidney as stars. Holmes had a relatively short starring career and died in WW II but he made several memorable films with Nancy Carroll.
21 of 26 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this