The Docks of New York (1928)

Dir. Josef von Sternberg
Starring: George Bancroft, Betty Comson, etc.

I’m not sure who I’d recommend this to. Kevin would like aspects of the film. I could see Grace, Penny and Mitchell liking this on some level, but it’s not something that I would strongly recommend. No to Don, Marc, Joel, John and Jill. This is a 1001 film pick, and it’s not a bad one.

This is a silent picture that takes place, where else, but on a dock in New York. A coal shoveler saves the life of a prostitute while on furlough. Not a serious person, he slowly gets drawn into caring for her.

The black-and-white photography is really good in this film, as well as some of the camera work. I liked the initial premise of the story, particularly because Comson made me feel for her character. The main problem was that some of the actions of the characters just didn’t seem real to me. Often in older pictures, characters speak and behave in ways that seem untrue to me, but I never know if this is simply the way people behaved in another time. In any event, these decisions kept me at arms length of the characters. Still, there was enough to make this an interesting film. I think this is the third von Sternberg film I’ve seen, and I definitely want to see more.

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