Friday, January 9, 2009
Directed by: King Vidor
Starring: James Murray and Eleanor Boardman
Plot: A man allegedly destined for greatness finds he's not.
Thoughts: The themes of this film remain timeless even if the film's setting is not. We all know someone with big dreams but never seems to make them happen. It's always something or someone else at fault and never that person. This is experienced firsthand through the life of one John Sims (as played by James Murray). Emotionally, this film is a roller coaster. We're presented with happiness only to visit tragedy shortly thereafter and then back again.
Vidor really used a number of long camera shots to convey the sheer scope of New York City and, in the process, made the everyman seem so insignificant. Silent films were truly visual exercises and it fell on the director and cinematographer to convey emotion and move the story along without any sound. Remember, orchestral scores were played live at the theater. Like Seventh Heaven, we're spared the histrionic flail acting which silent films are typically associated.
Turner Classic Movies was kind enough to show The Crowd earlier this week. It has not been released on DVD yet, but it was released on VHS (in 1989) and laserdisc (in 1991). A sequel of sorts was the film Our Daily Bread (also directed by Vidor), featuring an idealistic John Sims-esque character in a Depression-era farm community.
The Crowd was up against Chang and Sunrise for Best Production, Unique and Artistic Production and lost to Sunrise. King Vidor was nominated for Best Director, Dramatic Picture but lost to Frank Borzage for Seventh Heaven.