Street Scene

Street Scene

Director: King Vidor

Cast: King Vidor, Sylvia Sidney, William Collier Jr., Estelle Taylor

     
 

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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.

Overview

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 long-suffering daughter Rose (Sylvia Sidney). When the husband catches the wife "in the act" with bill-collector Russell Hopton, the resulting tragedy is not shown, but reflecting in the wildly varying reactions of neighbors and passersby. Though resisting the temptation to "open up" the play, director King Vidor nonetheless injects his cinematic know-how into the proceedings, by utilizing an entirely different camera setup or angle for each individual "take." The cast of Street Scene includes several carry-overs from the Broadway original, including David Landau, Max Montor, Matt McHugh (brother of Frank), John Qualen, George Humbert, Tom H. Manning, and Anna Konstant (Sidebar: Shirley Kaplan, the role played by Ms. Konstant, was portrayed in the London production of Street Scene by Greer Garson). Unavailable for TV for many years due to legal tangles, Street Scene was freed up for the small screen when it lapsed into public domain in the early 1980s.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Drawn from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Elmer Rice play, Street Scene is a dated but still moving look at one New York neighborhood in the midst of a heat wave. It's true that today's audiences are used to this kind of ensemble, slice-of-life effort, so the impact has lessened somewhat; it's also true that the accents employed, vital to letting audiences in 1931 know the ethnic background of each character, will come across as stilted and artificial to 21st century ears. But there's enough poetry in Rice's dialogue to help skate over the charge of stereotypes, and the author's keen ability to create memorable scenes is a big help. Granted, Street betrays its stage origins in its single setting, but director King Vidor creatively opens up the piece by employing a dazzling array of angles and set-ups to keep the setting intact while adding movement and variety to the visuals. He also masterfully handles the climactic set piece, employing a number of deft tricks to create maximum dramatic effect. The large cast is good, although some players are a bit more emphatic than is really necessary. A very young Sylvia Sidney, however, is mesmerizing as the young girls whose dreams are shattered in one violent instant.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/29/2012
UPC:
0842614104251
Original Release:
1931
Source:
Grapevine Video
Sales rank:
28,549

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Sylvia Sidney Rose Maurrant
William Collier Sam Kaplan
Estelle Taylor Mrs. Maurrant
Max Montor Abe Kaplan
David Landau Frank Maurrant
Louis Natheaux Harry Easter
Russell Hopton Steve Sankey
Greta Granstedt Mae Jones
T.H. Manning George Jones
Matt McHugh Vincent Jones
Adele Watson Olga Olsen
John Qualen Karl Olsen
Nora Cecil Alice Simpson
George Humbert Filippo Fiorentino
Eleanor Wesselhoeft Greta Fiorentino
Kenneth Seiling Charlie Hildebrand
Howard Russell Dr. John Wilson
Douglas Carter Dick McGann
Monte Carter Actor
Walter Miller Actor
Dick Powell Officer Harry Murphy
Jane Mercer Actor
Beulah Bondi Emma Jones
Walter James Marshal James Henry
Anna Konstant Shirley Kaplan
Harry Wallace Fred Cullen

Technical Credits
King Vidor Director
George Barnes Cinematographer
Hugh Bennett Editor
Richard Day Art Director
Samuel Goldwyn Producer
H. Bruce Humberstone Asst. Director
Alfred Newman Score Composer
Elmer Rice Screenwriter

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