Wednesday, November 18, 2015
The Crowd (1928 film)
Directed by King Vidor and written by Vidor, John V.A. Weaver, and un-credited work by Harry Behn, The Crowd is the story of an officer worker who tries to stand out from the crowd while dealing with life as a married man with a family. The film is an exploration into a man trying to make something of himself in a world where everyone is trying to standout but deal with enormity that is the crowd. Starring James Murray, Eleanor Boardman, and Bert Roach. The Crowd is a phenomenal film from King Vidor.
The film revolves the life of a young man who was instilled as a boy that he would make something of himself yet finds himself struggling to stand out from the rest of the world as he works in an office in New York City. It’s a film that plays into a man’s attempt to become a real somebody despite some tragedies as he would also get married and have a family. While he would overcome some obstacles in his life, it is all about trying to do something for himself and his family no matter how hard things can be. The film’s script plays into not just the trials and tribulations that John Sims (James Murray) would endure early in his life but the weight of optimism he would carry into his adult life despite the many setbacks he and his wife Mary (Eleanor Boardman) would endure.
King Vidor’s direction definitely has some flair for style in not just some of the compositions he creates but also in how he fuses an air of realism into the film. Shot largely on location in New York City, Vidor has his camera explore a world that is very busy and with a fast progression that play into the sense of reality that Sims must contend with. Some of Vidor’s camera angles that play into that clash of cynicism with optimism is very prevalent in some of the scenes while it is also quite playful at times. Even in scenes where Sims and Mary would have their first date with some friends as well as scenes that are visually entrancing such as the look of the office where Sims works at with many other men doing the same old thing.
It plays into the idea of the individual vs. the crowd as Vidor’s usage of wide and medium shots are prevalent while he does infuse a few close-ups for the drama. Even for some of the moments that would challenge Sims in the third act as it showcases that air of realism that Sims must contend with but also find hope in a world that is often unforgiving. Overall, Vidor creates a sensational and rich film about a man trying to stand out from the crowd.
Cinematographer Henry Sharp does brilliant work with the film‘s black-and-white photography to play into not just some of the realism in the locations in the city but also infuse some stylish lights for some scenes set at night in the interior and exterior scenes. Editor Hugh Wynn does excellent work with the editing as it is straightforward with some rhythmic cuts for some of the dramatic moments as well as some of the comical moments. Set decorators Cedric Gibbons and A. Arnold Gillespie do amazing work with some of the miniatures that are created for some of the elaborate moments with the camera as well as the look of the office where Sims works at. The film’s music by Carl Davis, for its 1981 reissue, is fantastic for its orchestral-based score with mixes of jazz to play into the period of the times as well as playing into some of the dramatic moments in the film.
The film’s excellent cast include some notable small roles from Alice Mildred Puter and Frederick Burke Frederick as John and Mary’s children, Lucy Beaumont as Mary’s mother, Daniel G. Tomlinson and Dell Henderson as Mary’s brothers who don’t approve of Sims, and Bert Roach as Sims’ friend Bert who would set Sims up with Mary. Eleanor Boardman is remarkable as Mary as a young woman who falls for George but copes with the struggles he faces as well as not doing enough for him. Finally, there’s James Murray in a marvelous performance as John Sims as a young man with hopes and dreams to make it in the city as he copes with reality and the fact that he’s just like everyone as it’s a performance that is filled with anguish and despair.
The Crowd is a sensational film from King Vidor. Filled with a great cast and evocative visuals, the film is truly a majestic look into the idea of reality vs. fantasy set into the world of the city from the eyes of a young man. Especially as it’s told with a sense of style that is unique in silent cinema. In the end, The Crowd is an astonishing film from King Vidor.
© thevoid99 2015