The Docks of New York

The crowds are overflowing at the bar. They seem to be in a constant state of riot. Or is that dancing? Either way, the man pushes them aside, sometimes violently, without thought, as he approaches his date. She raises her head. Curious and kind of sad.

The Docks of New York has little more plot than this. It’s the story of an uncertain one-day romance between a suicidal good time girl, and a brutish sailor who stopped her from drowning herself. It was by far my favorite film of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The way George Bancroft treads through the water-like flow of human bodies in the bar is a thrill to watch. Or the way the crowd suddenly unifies like a single force around the hilarious idea of the two of them getting married. The lighting in each of the dingy rooms is perfect. And Betty Compson… Betty Compson, is beautiful.

The film is fairly easy to get on DVD.

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