As the mid-July sun sets on one of the summer's hottest days, little groups of people gather to discuss the newest neighborhood scandal. Standing in front of a rusty brownstone in Manhattan's West Sixties, they gossip abou... more »t all the tenants of the building, but especially Mrs. Marrant, who has been seeing the local milkman behind her husband's back. When Mr. Marrant takes a trip out of town, the two lovers have a tragic meeting when her husband doubles back, catching them together. The confrontation will change everyone's lives forever, especially the Marrant's beautiful young daughter Rose (Sylvia Sidney, in one of her first starring roles), who is left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. Presented by Samuel Goldwyn and based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by Elmer Rice, who also wrote the screenplay, director King Vidor (Duel In the Sun, Our Daily Bread) has fashioned a raw, harrowing and powerful film with striking camera work by Academy Award-winning cinematographer George Barnes (Rebecca) and musical direction by nine-time Oscar winner Alfred Newman (Camelot, The King and I).« less
Mr Peter G George | Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom | 02/21/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this DVD as I'm a big fan of Sylvia Sidney and King Vidor. She looks wonderful, with a slightly different look from her more familiar late thirties incarnations. Vidor, on the other hand, is somewhat hampered by the constraints that were necessary in the early talkie period. When there is movement in the film it appears to have been shot silent (with added sound), otherwise the film is often rather static. Thus, although this film is similar in some respects to The Crowd, focussing on the lives of ordinary city dwellers, it cannot be said to be an advance in directoral terms. The story of the film is mature and adult, dealing with issues such as infidelity, prejudice and the damage of interfering gossip. There is not much glamour in this film and this makes it unusual for the period and certainly more serious. As with most early talkies, one of the problems with this film is the sound. At times one has to strain to hear the dialogue. The picture quality on the whole is fine, there are however some occassional jumps where a few frames have been lost. On the whole, this is a good example of an early talkie film and is well worth seeing. For Sylvia Sydney fans it is a must, even if she doesn't show up for nearly half an hour. Also for those obsessed with It's a Wonderful Life, it is worth noting the appearance of Belula Bondi (Jimmy Stewart's mother) in Street Scene. She looks much the same."
Fernando Silva | Santiago de Chile. | 06/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gripping, realistic account of the lives of the inhabitants of New York tenements, during the Depression years, based upon the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Elmer Rice.
Long before the Neorrealistic Movement began in Italy, Samuel Goldwyn produced this great picture which depicts the miseries and hardships of a group of working class characters, directed with skill, intelligence and in a very "naturalistic" way, by master director King Vidor, who excelled in this kind of films, dealing with social issues ("The Big Parade" (1925), "The Crowd" (1928), "Hallelujah" (1929) and "Our Daily Bread" (1934)).
Sylvia Sidney is magnificent and displays great acting skill in the role of a working girl; she looks pretty, charming, "petite", naive, conveying all the frailty and helplessness her character requires. William Collier Jr. portrays convincingly an idealistic young jewish College-educated lad, who is in love with Sidney's character.
Beulah Bondi is great as well, as a gossipy, mean, bitter woman who's married to a drunken, no-good man. Estelle Taylor is efficient as the basically nice, doomed, adulterous mother of Sylvia Sidney's character. Also in a cast full of stage actors, character player John Qualen, interprets very well a Scandinavian immigrant who works as the janitor of the building in which the events take place.
Great landmark score by legendary composer Alfred Newman, which is reminiscent of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue". Great camerawork for a movie that was filmed during the first years of Sound Pictures, when films were usually stagey and static.
The transfer is far from perfect but, in my opinion, is decent, considering the age of the film."
GREAT EARLY SYLVIA SIDNEY PERFORMANCE.
scotsladdie | 01/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In a New York slum street on a hot, sweltering summer night, an adulterous woman is shot by her husband. Based upon Edgar Rice's Pulitzer-Prize-winning play about the lives of people who live on one West Side Manhattan street proved to have national appeal to movie audiences back in 1931. King Vidor wisely kept eight members of the original cast to insure realism. As Rose, Sylvia Sidney is outstanding. Originally, Nancy Carroll was to have played her (Erin O'Brien-Moore did the part on Broadway), but she was committed to Paramount. Vidor, never afraid of realism, insisted on the magnificently steamy, gritty street scene sets. Alfred Newman's evocative score is timeless piece of motion picture compositon: it's esteemed to this day. Beulah Bondi made her film debut here, and went on to become one of the finest and most respected character actresses in films. In her eighties, she won an Emmy for her performance in an episode of THE WALTONS."
STREET SCENE: Sylvia Sidney Heats Up the Screen
Martin Asiner | jersey city, nj United States | 06/16/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Every so often heat becomes more than just a stifling rise in temperature designed to raise both a sweat and the tempers of the cast. Sometimes, heat acts as a metaphor to suggest the turmoil that often accompanies that heat rise. In STREET SCENE, director King Vidor took the Pulitzer Prize play by Elmer Rice and used Rice's own adaption to present a steamy day in a New York City tenement. A youthful Sylvia Sidney in one of her first starring roles shows the sloe-eyed sadness that came to mark her future screen persona. Sidney is Rose, a young girl who faces the double trauma of knowing that her mother has been carrying on an affair because her brute of a father radiates all the familial and paternal warmth of a vicious rat. Further complicating her life is her growing attraction for Sam (William Collier), a neighboring boy who suffers ostracism because of his Jewishness. The affair, the prejudice, the heat interact to produce an explosive climax that even today is remarkable in its jarring intensity. The technology of sound was in its infancy in 1931. Much of the dialogue and background auditory effects grate joltingly on the senses, which considering the frayed tempers exacerbated by the heat, is not necessarily a bad thing. STREET SCENE is the kind of unsettling film that makes you forget that film and sound technology need not be advanced for a superior script, fine acting, and first-rate directing to make you realize that you have just seen a gem of a film."
A Mature Film
Bobby Underwood | Manly NSW, Australia | 05/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The stifling oppression of poverty and the tragedy born from it is the subject of this mature film from King Vidor. Based on Elmer Rice's Pulitzer Prize winning play this Samuel Goldwyn produced film starring a young Sylvia Sidney is full of insight and maturity.
Though the entire film takes place on the steps of a tenament in New York where getting out is only a deam, only the first 15 minutes or so give evidence of its stage origins. Director Vidor, always innovative, uses photographer George Barnes' camera and a fine early score from Alfred Newman to give the viewer a real feel for these lives being led in sometimes quiet, and sometimes not so quiet, desperation. Soon you are lost in their world and begin to understand that much of what happens is simply born of poverty and having nowhere else to turn.
Much of the film is dialog between these neigbors living in cramped and hot quarters. There are Jews and Germans and Irish, Rice's words and Vidor's direction letting their lives unfold through that street scene in front of their building during the summer heat. A fire hydrant may offer some relief to the small children in the street but it will take more than water for some.
At the center of everything is Mrs. Murrant (Estelle Taylor) and her daughter Rose (Sylvia Sidney). Taylor gives an excellent performance as a woman reaching out for any happiness she can find in the slums. Her husband and Rose's father provides food and shelter but is so caught up in his own unhappiness there is no love or tenderness left to give.
Only trying to get more from life than just looking after someone else will lead the lonely mother of Rose to the arms of the milk collector. Their looks and actions are not lost on the other women in the building, especially the snide Mrs. Jones. Neither is it lost on her son Willie's friends. When Rose's father begins to suspect, tragedy is not far behind.
Sylvia underplays her Rose with sincerity and maturity. She sees both sides and understands that it is their environment which is causing all this. She herself is loved by a young Jewish boy whose mother likes Rose but knows his focus on getting out falters whenever she is near. Rose will grow up in an instant, and her life and that of her brother Willie's will change forever.
There are some quietly powerful scenes in this talky but rewarding drama. Rose attempting to cross the street while a young newsboy tries to get her to purchase his last paper, not knowing the sensational headline touches her personally, is quite moving. It is still a powerful scene as an ambulance pulls away from Rose, taking with it her youth in these slums.
There is a rich and mature ending with Vidor's camera following Rose toward the unknown, the New York skyline of the time offering hope perhaps, for a future born from tragedy. What has begun as a somewhat dated early talkie has become a moving and touching film of real substance.
King Vidor has been neglected when the subject of great directors comes up, possibly due to the fact that some of his best work, most notably "The Stranger's Return," is not available. "Street Scene" is one of his best and, while slightly dated, is well worth a look for film buffs."