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Street Scene

Street Scene (1931)

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Release Date: Jan 1, 1931 Wide

audience

66

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 89

My Rating

Movie Info

Elmer Rice's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Street Scene was purchased for the screen by producer Samuel Goldwyn in 1931. The entire story takes place on the street in front of a foreboding old New York brownstone, between one evening and the next afternoon. The individual fates of eight neighboring Manhattan families intertwine during this brief stretch of time. Special emphasis is given the Maurrant family: the philandering mother (Estelle Taylor), the drink-sodden husband (David Landau) and

Unrated,

Drama, Classics

Elmer Rice

Sep 19, 2000

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All Critics (7) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (4) | Rotten (0) | DVD (3)

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

January 11, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
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.
July 1, 2012
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  • Street Scene (1931) (DE)
  • Street Scene (1931) (UK)
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