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The Crowd (1928).

June 22, 2007

(No, Desuko’s summer hiatus isn’t over yet, but I just thought I’d toss up another review to let you all know this site hasn’t disappeared altogether. Expect the regular update schedule to resume in mid-July. In the meantime…)

The Scoop:
Writer/director King Vidor’s masterpiece is one of the unheralded classics of the silent era. The story follows a young man (played by the appropriately anonymous James Murray, who never had another starring role) who goes to New York to make his name, only to find tragedy as a faceless member of “the crowd,” that teeming mass of striving humanity that populates any large city.

The film shows the influence of the German expressionist movement of the time, not just in its visual style, but also in its theme of humanity being warped and crushed by the industrialism of the modern age. But this pathos is interlaced with touches of humor and presented with a visual creativity that’s rarely been matched.

To capture the authentic look and feel of the streets of the big city, Vidor shot on location and went to great lengths to hide the cameras from passersby. There is even one shot of a policeman hassling Vidor and his crew to “move along,” which was kept in the film for effect.

“The Crowd” is a real treat, and should be one of the first stops for any exploration of the silent era.

Best Bit:
The camera going down the giant slide at Coney Island.

Side Note:
Production dragged on so long that costar Eleanor Boardman had enough time to get pregnant and deliver her child, all before shooting wrapped.

Companion Viewing:
“Greed” (1924), “Metropolis” (1926) and “Brazil” (1985).


Take a Look:
Apparently there are no clips available online, so here are some stills to give you an idea…

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