Archive for March 4th, 2010


by Allan Fish

(USA 1928 77m) not on DVD

The end of many journeys, the beginning of many adventures

p  J.G.Bachman  d  Josef Von Sternberg  w  Jules Furthman  story  “The Dock Walloper” by John Monk Saunders  ph  Harold Rosson  ed  Helen Lewis  m  Gaylord Carter  art  Hans Dreier

George Bancroft (Bill Roberts), Betty Compson (Sadie), Olga Baclanova (Lou), Clyde Cook (Steve), Gustav Von Seyffertitz (Hymn Book Harry), Mitchell Lewis (engineer), Lilian Worth, Guy Oliver,

How might Wilkins Micawber have summed up the works of Josef Von Sternberg?  Maybe like this – “in short, sex with the right young girl; end result?  Happiness.  Obsessing after sex with the wrong young girl; end result?  Misery.”  Throughout his career, the ersatz Von Sternberg carried that mantra as his good companion and, though it received its greatest flowering in a series of memorable studies with Marlene Dietrich, the first great example came with this visually extraordinary dockside drama of the late silent era.  Compare it to Clarence Brown’s Garbo starrer Anna Christie two years later and one begins to wonder whether talkies really were an advance on the silent masterworks, for no film truly evoked that era and location quite like Von Sternberg’s film did.  It’s a film that preserves the world of Eugene O’Neill far better than any film of his works. 

            Bill Roberts is a ship’s stoker who is given shore leave of one night to have some fun on the New York dockside.  While walking along the waterfront, he notices a young prostitute jump in and he jumps in after her to save her.  Bringing her back to his lonely room, he becomes instantly enamoured with her, and even offers to marry her.  However, the morning after, he realises he must leave his young bride to return to sea.  (more…)

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