Street Scene (King Vidor, 1931)

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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

Street Scene (King Vidor, 1931)

#1 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue May 13, 2008 3:40 pm

This little known, early sound pre-code (though little in the way of raciness) gem by King Vidor is a bitch to acquire, at least here in the states. A more innocuous (in terms of the portrayal of vice & crime) variant of the slice-of-life NYC tales of slum & tenement dwellers on the east side-- similarities to Heart Of New York, Taxi, City Streets, Applause, not to mention the authentic on-the-sidewalk feel of many of the early gangster pics and later works like Christ In Concrete, works like Body & Soul, Force Of Evil, West Side Story, Hester Street, etc.

Based on a Pulitzer-winning stage play, the film shows its roots via the fact that much of the action consists of a bunch of tenement dwellers hanging out on the front stoop-- or out windows, elbows & tits on pillows-- to gossip & generally chew the rag while trying to cool down versus a roasting hot summer day. But Vidor keeps the script running livid thru the viewer by constantly keeping the mise en scene alive to the content.. with brilliant cinematography by George Barnes (rumored that his operator here was-- an uncredited-- Gregg Toland) going low, high, tracking along with sauntering passers by. The challenge of making a visually compelling film based around a primary location around which the action all rotates-- one single stoop-- is well met.

Not to mention the performances, the script, the picture of a long-disappeared NYC of my father and grandparents, where the tenements of the east side were bursting with life, with parents and kids and grandparents all sitting and talking and living and knowing and playing together.. sharing food, sugar, coffee, butter, long hot nights and freezing winters with newspaper caulking insulating broken windowpanes.

And the love of my life Sylvia Sydney. Ah Sylvia, the things Unworthy Me would have done to you if granted the chance. She is just the cutest, most buxom piece of glowing sweetness the movies have ever seen. God would I have ever loved to befoul that sacred frame. Another plus for Sydney fans is you get a look at her during this earliest-- almost teenaged-- phase of her almost 70 year career with her long hair let down and flowing free... this vs her usual Betty Boop (you'd almost swear she was the visual inspiration for the 'toon of Boop) hairdo with the back pinned up, as was so common during this era. One thing I discovered researching this film and Sydney was the fact that she studied the stage with Rouben Mamoulian.. probably leading to her role in City Streets.

Anyhow-- I wanted to commit this thread to existence because of the lack of a dvd. There was an Image Ent. disc (beev) of the film that has gone out of print and selling upwards of 70 bux on the web. There is a two part upload (with an absurd logo stamped onto the image) of what I presume is the old vhs, on google, here:

Part One, (erroneously referred to as directed by Fritz Lang)

and

Part Two.

If anyone locates a r(e-)tailer, anywhere across the regions, which has escaped me or Gary Tooze, pls post. W/b much obliged.
Last edited by HerrSchreck on Tue May 13, 2008 4:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Antoine Doinel
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:22 pm
Location: Montreal, Quebec
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#2 Post by Antoine Doinel » Tue May 13, 2008 4:19 pm

Herr, this looks absolutely fabulous. Can you fix the links? They both seem to be going to part 2. Can't wait to get home and watch this.

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HerrSchreck
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am

#3 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue May 13, 2008 4:33 pm

Fixed. Going in thru googlevid, searching "street scene Fritz Lang" (when you see the title of part one you'll understand) takes you to pt 1... then try to copy paste the url.. for somereason links you back to two.

I nixed the browser, went straight in through youtube cold, typed in street scene fritz lang, pasted the link, and wa-la.

Sorry for the confusion. The links in first post s/b right now.

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