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Street Scene (1931)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 5 September 1931 (USA)
Twenty-four hours elapse on the stoop of a Hell's Kitchen tenement as a microcosm of the American melting pot interacts with each other during a summer heatwave.

Director:

King Vidor

Writers:

Elmer Rice (play), Elmer Rice (adaptation)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sylvia Sidney ... Rose Maurrant
William Collier Jr. ... Sam Kaplan
Estelle Taylor ... Mrs. Anna Maurrant
Beulah Bondi ... Emma Jones
David Landau ... Mr. Frank Maurrant
Matt McHugh Matt McHugh ... Vincent Jones
Russell Hopton ... Steve Sankey
Greta Granstedt ... Mae Jones (as Greta Grandstedt)
Eleanor Wesselhoeft Eleanor Wesselhoeft ... Marguerite 'Greta' Fiorentino
Allen Fox Allen Fox ... Dick McGann (as Allan Fox)
Nora Cecil ... Alice Simpson - Welfare Worker
Margaret Robertson Margaret Robertson ... Minor Role
Walter James Walter James ... Police Marshal James Henry
Max Montor Max Montor ... Abe Kaplan
Walter Miller ... Bert Easter - Rose's Boss
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Storyline

In a hot summer afternoon in New York, Emma Jones gossips with other neighbors of her residential building about the affair of Mrs. Anna Maurrant and the milkman Steve Sankey. When the rude Mr. Frank Maurrant arrives, they change the subject. Meanwhile, their teenage daughter Rose Maurrant is sexually harassed by her boss Mr. Bert Easter; however, she likes her Jewish neighbor Sam that has a crush on her. On the next morning, Frank tells that is traveling to Stanford on business. Mrs. Maurrant meets the gentle Sankey in her apartment, but out of the blue Frank comes back home in an announced tragedy. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The simple story of LIFE through the window pane of the house across the street. (Print Ad- Vancouver Sun, ((Vancouver, BC)) 29 April 1932)

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 September 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Street Scene See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$584,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is the first complete film score of multi-Academy Award winner Alfred Newman. Newman composed the eponymous title theme, in the style of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. The theme has been used in other movies, including Cry of the City, Kiss of Death, I Wake Up Screaming, Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Dark Corner, Gentleman's Agreement and as the overture to How to Marry a Millionaire. See more »

Goofs

(around 55 mins) When Steve Sanky is walking toward Mrs. Anna Maurant's building, he passes a man in a suit walking in the opposite direction and carrying an article of clothing. However, when it cuts to the next shot which is from the reverse angle, you see Sanky passing the same man again. See more »

Quotes

Emma Jones: Between you and I, I don't think her mother's long for this world.
Mrs. Anna Maurrant: Poor Miss Cushing. She's just spent her whole life looking after her mother.
Emma Jones: Well, I hope to tell ya', after all I've done for my kids, I expect 'em to look after me in my old age.
Mrs. Anna Maurrant: Oh, I don't know. It seems to me a person ought to get more out of life than just looking after somebody else.
See more »


Soundtracks

The Sidewalks of New York
(1894) (uncredited)
Music by Charles Lawlor
Played as background music twice when children are playing
See more »

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User Reviews

 
West Side Stories
9 December 2009 | by st-shotSee all my reviews

King Vidor's film adaptation of Edgar Rice's Pulitzer Prize winning play about the denizens of a tenement on New York's West Side is a gracefully crafted well paced story balanced by an abundance of humor and sadness. As lives intersect in front of the stoop we are presented a cross section of the great melting pot with accents and biases in place arguing politics, dispensing philosophy, bragging, fueling stereotypes ,gossiping and complaining about the heat.

In less skillful and ambitious hands Street Scene might have made for a more than passable filmed stage play by working in the confines of a studio sound stage but Vidor takes it to the streets in more than one scene giving the film a more gritty and realistic feel as well as using the expanse for symbolic purpose. He also eschews back projection by cleverly erecting a set off of an actual city street to provide realistic backdrop. His camera movement is breathtaking and powerful without being self indulgent as his signature crane shots unveil the neighborhood to establish time place and elevate drama. Working in a limited space he keeps things fresh and energized by changing angles and using natural transition by tracking characters into other conversations. His languorous but deliberate pace befitting a summer in the city heat wave that leads up to the stunningly edited climactic scene is perfectly measured for maximum effect. Max Steiner's score as well as the ambient music of children playing and singing in two separate scenes of dark irony seamlessly contribute to the films mood. While a general gloominess pervades and bigotries are ungoverned the stoop is the scene of great joy and humor much of it dark.

The cast of various ethnic types run from comic to ugly as they freely spout superstitions, bravado, rumor, bigotry and revolution. Some have dreams but most are filled with cynicism. Beulah Bondi as busy body Emma Jones is a sidewalk Cassandra with nothing good to say about anything or anyone. Sad eyed Sylvia Sidney gives a heartfelt performance as the daughter in the tragic Maurant family. Pulled from all sides she struggles to keep her family together while fending off the the seduction efforts of her boss who dangles a place of her own in front of her.

Street Scene is a microcosm in part of the immigrant experience in America during the first half of the last century and though some of the characterizations may be broad it retains an important historical significance. But it is King Vidor's master class( greatly assisted by the lensing of Barnes and Toland) in cinema grammar that awes and makes Street Scene a superb work of the early sound era.


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