The Docks of New York
United States 1928
If you will ignore the inartistic ending, added as a sop to the box office, you will find here a picture that observes Aristotle's three unities of time, place and action.
Von Sternberg, the mad young director who made "Underworld" has selected a situation unlimited in dramatic value — a wedding in a brothel! He has given his story that subtle emotional undercurrent, rare to the cinema.
George Bancroft plays the role of a coal stoker, as simple and as cruel as a child, who plucks a woman from suicide and shows her a good time. The trouble with her is that she has had too many good times. To him, the wedding is a gag, the outcome of a drunken moment. To her, it means release from sordidness and her only chance for respectability. They are both pitiful, for there can be no common understanding between them.
If you are one of those blessed with an appreciation of the beauty of realism, then this will be more beautiful to you than a story of young love in a garden. It has power and tenderness.
Betty Compson, as the woman, does as fine a piece of work as the screen has witnessed. Duse could not have been more poignant. Imagine her combining bitterness, womanliness and beauty in one strikingly artistic performance. Baclanova, strange and vital, is touched with the same poignancy. Of course, Bancroft is excellent, while Mitchell Lewis and Clyde Cook leave nothing to be desired. Yet it is a director's picture and had it not been for the fatal "tag," it would have been as worthy an effort as has appeared. Dramatic, living, powerful!
Photoplay November 1928
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