6.6/10
496
23 user 8 critic

An American Tragedy (1931)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 22 August 1931 (USA)
A poor factory worker, employed by a wealthy uncle, falls in love with a beautiful heiress but his happiness and promising future are jeopardized by a previous affair with a coworker he impregnated.

Director:

Josef von Sternberg (as Josef Von Sternberg)

Writers:

Theodore Dreiser (novel), Samuel Hoffenstein (screenplay)
Reviews

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Dishonored (1931)
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The Austrian Secret Service sends its most seductive agent to spy on the Russians.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Marlene Dietrich, Victor McLaglen, Gustav von Seyffertitz
Street Scene (1931)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Twenty-four hours elapse on the stoop of a Hell's Kitchen tenement as a microcosm of the American melting pot interacts with each other during a summer heatwave.

Director: King Vidor
Stars: Sylvia Sidney, William Collier Jr., Estelle Taylor
Certificate: Passed Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A German noblewoman enters into a loveless marriage with the dim-witted, unstable heir to the Russian throne, then plots to oust him from power.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Marlene Dietrich, John Lodge, Sam Jaffe
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

After the death of her father and loss of the family fortune, Bonnie gets a job as a cub reporter while her brother becomes involved in bootlegging.

Director: Harry Beaumont
Stars: Joan Crawford, Cliff Edwards, Lester Vail
Morocco (1930)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A cabaret singer and a Legionnaire fall in love, but their relationship is complicated by the results of his womanizing and due to the appearance of a rich man who wants her for himself.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich, Adolphe Menjou
Midnight Mary (1933)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An abused orphan sinks into a life of crime.

Director: William A. Wellman
Stars: Loretta Young, Franchot Tone, Ricardo Cortez
Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A loose woman rediscovers a former lover during a dangerous train ride to Shanghai.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Marlene Dietrich, Clive Brook, Anna May Wong
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Princess is destined to marry the Emperor, until her sister steps in.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Franchot Tone, Grace Moore, Walter Connolly
Cluny Brown (1946)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A free-spirited parlor maid and a Czech refugee surprise an English village with their unconventional ways.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Charles Boyer, Jennifer Jones, Peter Lawford
City Streets (1931)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Man joins a gang to free his girlfriend from prison.

Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Stars: Gary Cooper, Sylvia Sidney, Paul Lukas
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The day before her wedding, a pampered young woman absconds with her sister's husband; in retaliation, her sister begins seeing the woman's former fiancé.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, George Brent
Ana-ta-han (1953)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In June 1944, twelve Japanese seaman are stranded on an abandoned-and-forgotten island called An-ta-han for seven years. The island's only inhabitants are the overseer of the abandoned ... See full summary »

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: Akemi Negishi, Tadashi Suganuma, Kisaburo Sawamura
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Phillips Holmes ... Clyde Griffiths
Sylvia Sidney ... Roberta Alden
Frances Dee ... Sondra Finchley
Irving Pichel ... District Attorney Orville Mason
Frederick Burton ... Samuel Griffiths
Claire McDowell ... Mrs. Samuel Griffiths
Wallace Middleton Wallace Middleton ... Gilbert Griffiths
Emmett Corrigan Emmett Corrigan ... Belknap
Charles Middleton ... Jephson (as Charles B. Middleton)
Lucille La Verne ... Mrs. Asa Griffiths
Al Hart ... Titus Alden (as Albert Hart)
Fanny Midgley Fanny Midgley ... Mrs. Titus Alden
Arnold Korff ... Judge
Russ Powell Russ Powell ... Coroner Fred Heit (as Russell Powell)
Edit

Storyline

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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Impetous youth...loving grandly...branded by passion...scorning advice...TOO WEAK TO FACE THE CONSEQUENCES! (Print Ad-The Philadelphia Inquirer,((Philadelphia, Penna.)) 4 September 1931) See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 August 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Eine amerikanische Tragödie See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie was banned in England, South Africa and Italy because of reference to abortion. Other states required allusions to abortion to be deleted before release. See more »

Connections

Version of Nakaw na pag-ibig (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

Nearer My God to Thee
(1856) (uncredited)
Music by Lowell Mason
Played on an organ at the mission
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A darker tale than the 1951 remake
12 March 2008 | by overseer-3See all my reviews

I finally got to see Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy (1931), with Phillips Holmes playing the young sociopath-murderer that Monty Clift played in the later A Place In the Sun (1951). This picture was directed by Josef von Sternberg.

The print a friend loaned me was a real chore on the eyes, I am glad I didn't pay for this! I don't like her generally, but I must admit Sylvia Sidney did a good job as the thoughtless girl "Bert", which Shelley Winters more annoyingly played in the remake. Sylvia's part was much bigger and more sympathetic than the girl Phillips' character Clyde falls in love with later, here played by Frances Dee and in the remake by Elizabeth Taylor. In A Place in the Sun Elizabeth Taylor's part was very much expanded, but in this earlier version we're not even sure Clyde cares more about her than her money.

Phillips played his part so emotionlessly that it was almost like he was in a trance. I kept thinking of the infamous Scott Peterson and his emotionlessness through his trial for murdering his pregnant wife. I think that was a deliberate choice on Phillips' part to play the role this way, but there were many times when he seemed very wooden to me and I wanted to see more passion or life or something! Overall I do think he was truer to the role though than Monty Clift's interpretation.

I don't recall a mother character in A Place In The Sun, but here Clyde's mother is played well by Lucille La Verne, a popular character actress of the 30's. She runs a mission and spends more time saving souls than looking after her only boy, with the result that he grows up without a firm rudder to cling to when times get hard. So in that respect this earlier film version gives the audience more of a background into Clyde's childhood and environment which made him the sociopath he turned out to be. You know the character is in for it right at the beginning of the film, when he's indirectly involved with a hit and run accident of a child, and runs away rather than give details to the police.

If you can see it, do so. I hope you obtain a better print than I did though! I wish TCM would play this film, maybe back to back one evening with the 1951 remake, so folks can compare versions.


21 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 23 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Alfonso Cuarón's 'Roma' Stars Are the Heart of His Film

Director Alfonso Cuarón sits down with IMDb to talk about his 10-time Oscar-nominated film, Roma, and its breakout stars, Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira.

Watch the full interview

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed