“You coulda saved yourself the trouble an’ let me die.”
A ship stoker (George Bancroft) saves a depressed prostitute (Betty Compson) from suicide, then marries her on a drunken lark.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- George Bancroft Films
- Josef Von Sternberg Films
- New York
- Silent Films
Josef von Sternberg’s whirlwind romantic fable manages to pack an enormous amount of genuine pathos into a story taking place literally overnight. Thanks to sensitive acting by all involved, we quickly grow to care for these characters — particularly the world-weary Compson — and are disappointed when the film ends after only 76 minutes. There’s a refreshing lack of moralizing, thus affording us a much more authentic glimpse of these characters’ lives than would be possible just a few years later during the Hays Code era. Harold Rosson’s atmospheric cinematography of the New York waterfront is a wonder to behold, and adds to the film’s overall appeal.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- George Bancroft as the well-meaning yet fiercely independent sailor (nominated by Peary for an Alternate Oscar as best actor of the year)
- Olga Baclanova as Compson’s helpful friend
- Gorgeous black-and-white cinematography
Yes. This is a rare silent film which transcends the limitations of its format, and emerges as a surprisingly effective romance.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)