The Docks of New York - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Docks of New York Reviews

Page 1 of 3
½ November 2, 2016
Vividly realized silent tale of a stoker who comes ashore to find drunken fun and winds up rescuing a girl from drowning and marrying her. One of von Sternberg's late silent films (before he hooked up with Marlene Dietrich), showing his interest in "painting with light" - there is smoke or fog in many of the scenes. George Bancroft is compellingly lout-like but ultimately sympathetic as he overcomes his primitive male instincts to sacrifice himself for his "wife". Betty Compson has less to do and looks rather ambivalent about Bancroft but throws her lot in with him anyway; such may have been the fate of a good-time gal in the 1920's - no other options. Unlike other silent films of this period, von Sternberg doesn't take things truly wide, trying to stun us with amazing set-pieces (a la Murnau), so I was a bit disappointed. But keeping the drama small and focusing on the characterizations may be the strategy that led to his later success with Marlene - it was all about her and everything else was stripped away (or really everything else, indulgent as it became, glorified her).
January 24, 2016
With an artistic and poetic approach to it, a wonderful romance, such lovable characters, terrific performances from its talented cast, deft editing, just beautiful score, playful dialogue, brilliant cinematography and a big heart at its core, The Docks of New York is a beautiful movie that is always charming and enjoyable to watch, while also being a work of art. It is an undisputed masterpiece that is one of the best silent films as well as one of the most romantic movies ever made.
February 11, 2015
"I guess I'd wait for you forever Bill" awwhhhh great movie
June 12, 2014
Yet another silent film! This silent film however, somehow, doesn't feel like a silent film, if that makes any sense. It's actually a fairly straightforward drama with a surprising amount of dialogue (mouthed and in title cards). The story still shines through. A stoker of a ship rescues a young woman after a suicide attempt then marries her. It builds up to an absolutely heartbreaking and moving third act featuring brilliant performances from the two leads. I've seen very little of Josef von Sternberg's work and this is yet another reminder that I need to further delve in his filmography.
½ June 7, 2014
A semi simple story told very well. There ares several elements of this film that are very effective at tugging at your emotions. I could understand the guff blue collar "stoker" (one who shovels coal on boats) having his mainly lone wolf exterior attempted to be (an eventually successfully) penetrated by a weak delicate damsel in self imposed distress. The woman with a troubled past who feels like his man is the only chance for good in her life after he saves her. In an attempt to win over the heart of the one only good thing she seems to have going in her life she attempts to sew his shirt but cant seem to get the thread in the needle. This works as an incredibly effective metaphor for frustration trying to impress him as well as her lack of experience being domestic but trying to hard to be "the good wife" for him. George Bancroft is great as the ultra mans man bill roberts. He invincibly moves though the world confident he can handle any challenge with ease. Betty Compson is the antithesis of Bill as the small dainty emotional Sadie. This movie is just over and hour and well not a must see but still every enjoyable.
citawijaya
Super Reviewer
January 2, 2014
The story's a bit unusual compared to the usual silent movies love story but I actually love this a lot.
hunterjt13
Super Reviewer
November 2, 2013
A ship worker falls for a suicidal woman.
Much of George Bancroft's performance as Bill Roberts is spent strutting and posing with a masculine air that borders on satire, and the plot of the film is victim to silent film's inability to express full character interaction: if this is a love story, it's a love that the audience must endow with its own background and motivations.
However, the film is a technical achievement. The cinematography is beautiful, and while Bill is a tough guy to like, there's enough compassion in him that we can find ourselves siding with him. This is a seedy world, and director Joseph von Sternberg presents it in all its bleak charm. There aren't many good guys, so von Sternberg makes the bad guys all themore interesting.
Overall, this is a solid and remarkable film but not without its flaws.
October 27, 2013
One of the crowning achievements of the silent era, a tough and tender love story.
September 7, 2013
Although it doesn't have the biggest reputation today, Josef Von Sternberg's 1928 film The Docks of New York is actually a masterpiece of silent cinema. It's got a fairly simple, melodramatic story, but it builds on that foundation with extremely good direction, production values, and performances. I hadn't heard anything about it before I saw it, but I loved it.

The story, set in a dockside slum in New York, follows a blue-collar sailor (George Bancroft) who, on shore after docking from his latest job, saves a prostitute who tries to drown herself (Betty Compson). After she recovers, the pair impulsively decide to get married right there in the seedy bar where most of the movie is set. Melodrama ensues.

Josef Von Sternberg's command of camera movement and mise-en-scene are stunning in this movie. It's an incredibly atmospheric work - everything from the decor to the lighting and smoke works to make you feel as if you were standing in the middle of this world. There are a few scenes where we see the characters in front of us, but can see a great deal of action unfolding behind the camera in the mirror above the characters. It's not necessary for the story, but realizing that you're watching things unfold both in front of and behind the camera provides the movie with a more thorough sense of immersion than even today's 3-D movies can provide. The movie uses every trick in the silent-cinema book to get you involved in its story and its world, and the effort pays off. This is one of the greatest unsung movies of the silent era.
May 10, 2013
finding love in the gutter. A poetic tale of the docks' "miserables" and how emotion can spring in the most unusual places at most unusual times.
February 8, 2013
A lively, great looking movie with perfect performances, some really interesting shots (anchor at the beginning, reflection on water).
½ December 15, 2012
Breve incontro tra un fuochista di nave e una prostituta disperata che egli salva dal suicidio. La donna accusata di un omicidio, commesso da un'amica. Decidono di rimanere insieme. Il dramma si svolge nel giro di 24 ore, diviso in due "atti" condizionati dalla luce: il primo dominato dalla Notte, il secondo dal Giorno. ", per chi ama il cinema, un incontro unico con una sintesi stilistica inconsueta e raramente fruttuosa" (G. Buttafava). Sternberg coniuga Hollywood e la scuola tedesca. Scritto da Jules Furtham e ispirato a The Dick Walloper di J.M. Saunders. Fotografia di Harold Rosson. Muto.AUTORE LETTERARIO: John Monk Saunders
[morandini]
½ November 4, 2012
One of the most impeccably shot silent films I've ever seen. Von Sternberg was a genius of lighting.
November 3, 2012
Through the dark shadows and murky atmosphere, an incredibley brilliant little film takes place. Lovely and classic!
½ May 23, 2012
One of the pinnacles of the silent era, von Sternberg's exquisite use of light and many-layered depth of field make Docks a feast for the eye--a magnificent tracking shot through the bar is one of the highlights. Bancroft possesses a subtle charm, while Compson communicates so much with little more than her eyes. The simple story shines in the moody atmosphere of the Bowery, the tumbledown saloon and apartments offering a rich and inventive backdrop.
November 28, 2011
Von Sternberg directs a love story, about a tattooed up dirty old dock worker, and a depressed socialite. At the time it was very unusual to see such anti-Hollywood looks and non-glamour on the screen, especially for a love story. Very well directed, and also well acted with powerful performances by Bancroft and Compson in the lead roles.
November 27, 2011
A ship's stoker saves a woman's life after she tries to kill herself; her life and his are changed forever as a romance of kinds results.
½ October 12, 2011
This was my favorite of the three Von Sternberg silents I've watched. The characters, set design, and writing was all pitch perfect here. The story was simplistic and yet was rewarding. A highly recommended watch.
September 27, 2011
For a silent, black and white film, The Docks of New York is surprisingly at creating a series of similar shots that are every bit as drab and gritty as they are fascinating. At the very least, it's interesting to look back on one of the earlier works of film.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
August 4, 2011
In "The Docks of New York," Bill Roberts(George Bancroft) is a stoker on board of a steamboat that is about to dock for a night in New York. As such, he has plans but is warned not to be late for the boat's departure in the morning. Those same plans hit a snag when Bill dives into the harbor to rescue Mae(Betty Compson) who just tried to kill herself. As she recovers her wits, they get to know each other. Just after he shows off his tattoos, she pops the question.

"The Docks of New York" is an engrossing and lively film about people in the lowest rungs of life who are not so much given a reprieve, but just the barest glimmer of hope. At the start, Mae has given up on any possibilties for her future while Bill takes advantage of whatever fun he can find for himself, when he is not at his grueling job, to enjoy himself and forget everything else. All of which is set in a close knit community of people who look out for each other when they have nothing else.
Page 1 of 3