Docks Of New York, The (1928)

Silent Movies for people who don't like Silent Movies
Silent Movies for people who don't like Silent Movies

Genre: Crime Drama Romance

Starring: George Bancroft (Mr. Deeds Goes to Town Angels with Dirty Faces), Betty Compson (Mr. & Mrs. SmithThe Barker)

Directed By: Josef von Sternberg (The Blue AngelShanghai Express

Overview: When their ship comes to port, a burly steam stoker has one night to live it up in New York City. On his way to the bar he saves a woman attempting to commit suicide by drowning. As he takes care of her, the two quickly begin a whirlwind romance.

Romance for Dudes not So into Romance
Romance for Dudes Not So into Romance

Knowing little of The Docks Of New York, I was torn between expecting the foolish melodrama of Foolish Wives and the amazingly dramatic depths of Sunrise. The story is all too simple - Boy meets Girl: a sailor has one night in town to live it up before the ship sets sail to yet another port. Our sailor in question, Bill, is planning on going on a hard-core tear. On his way to one of the joints on the harbour, he sees a young lady jump into the drink. He quickly jumps in after her, takes her to the seedy harbour inn, puts her up in one of the rooms and gets some help in taking care of her. Soon after, the two begin to talk and quickly become entangled in a romance.

I've traveled the seven seas but I never seen a ship as trim as you.

Any doubts I had about the quality of the film was immediately allayed at the sight of the incredible cinematography. The opening shot, below, is stunningly detailed and perfectly conveyed the hard life these stokers endure daily. When the characters were introduced, they were pleasantly filmically grand while also being honestly written, creating story worthy of being called a classic. The over-the-top performance of George Bancroft is a pleasure to behold. His character's near-godly strength and majesty is unforgettable, and the friction he shares with the Third Engineer makes the unfolding story ever more enticing.

You might be big game back on the boat, but here you're nothing but an animal cracker.

Cinema for those who love cinema
Cinema for those who love cinema

An amazingly witty script, intense, dramatic acting and cinematography that captures it all in an almost epic fashion. The Docks of New York is one of those treasures of cinema that makes us we mourn the coming of the talkie, and the passing of the Silent Era.

Performance: 9 Cinematography: 9 Script: 9 Plot: 8 Mood: 8

Overall Rating: 86% (Pull On Up)

Painfully obvious is how Pre-Code this production is. The men carouse in a seedy inn, the women are looser than Lucy, not to mention that crime and immorality is really the bread and butter of this delicious little meal.

In short, a film this brazen may be an interesting eye opener to those of you who thought filmof the 20s were proper.


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