Street Scene (1931)

Street Scene


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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Two days in the life of a single stretch of residential urban sidewalk is the framework for this multi-character drama of lower-class betrayal, murder and yearning. This contained but highly cinematic (via director King Vidor) screen version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning stageplay is a Sam Goldwyn production.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Elmer Rice
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 19, 2000



as Rose Maurrant

as Sam Kaplan

as Sam Kaplan

as Emma Jones

as Mrs. Maurrant

as Abe Kaplan

as Frank Maurrant

as Vincent Jones

as Steve Sankey

as George Jones

as Mae Jones

as George Jones

as Olga Olsen

as Karl Olsen

as Shirley Kaplan

as Filippo Fiorentino

as Greta Fiorentino

as Alice Simpson

as Harry Easter

as Willie Maurrant

as Mary Hildebrand

as Laura Hildebrand

as Charlie Hildebrand

as Dan Buchanan

as Dr. John Wilson

as Officer Harry Murphy

as Marshal James Henry

as Fred Cullen

as Minor Role

as Minor Role

as Mr. Bert Easter
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Street Scene

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (3)

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 28, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A theatrical snapshot that's also a heaving Vidor vision

Full Review… | May 24, 2015

Too stage-struck and mired in generalities to be a moving experience.

Full Review… | January 11, 2005
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Dated but moving melodrama

June 25, 2004
Film Journal International

Audience Reviews for Street Scene


Tensions run high in a multi-ethnic neighborhood during a New York heatwave.

It sounds like the plot of Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" yet this was filmed some sixty years prior. As well as Lee, it appears to have had a major influence on Woody Allen. If you've seen "Manhattan" (and if you haven't, stop reading and go watch it) several sequences will be familiar. The opening and middle montages of New York at sundown and sunset with their Gershwin-esque score by Alfred Newman bear more than a passing resemblance to Allen's great opening. Likewise the movie's final scene, involving a rebuttal of a lover by a young girl who is a lot more mature than he had thought.
It's adapted by the writer Elmer Rice from his Pulitzer winning stage play and in the hands of an average director of the time it would probably be no more than a filmed play. Vidor is not average thankfully and this is a beautiful film in the visual sense. His camera is constantly on the move, probing the nooks and crannies of a very convincing set. He finds inventive angles which reveal subtle information such as the low shot which reveals the outwardly prim and proper Bondi adjusting her underwear out of sight of the neighbours she disrespects.
Had this been made after the introduction of the code it would have been a very different film. Characters throw racial insults around casually and the local good-time girl flaunts her bra-less cleavage in a manner which must have provoked outrage at the time.
Thanks to the pre-code dialogue, the movie has aged extremely well. The New York Times complained at the time that the dialogue was "spoken without sufficient pause". This of course was made a good decade before Hawks and Sturges would turn quickfire banter into an artform. The realistic language seems however to enable the actors to relax into their parts and the performances are so natural it feels like it was made thirty years later. Sidney is particularly good and looks fantastic.
I actually came across this purely by mistake while searching for another of Sidney's movies, "City Streets". You can view the movie in it's entirety on Youtube and I thoroughly suggest you do.
The Movie Waffler

Super Reviewer

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