Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo di Felix Riesenberg. Scen.: Allan Dwan. F.: George Webber. Int.: George O’Brien (John Breen), Virginia Valli (Becka Lipvitch), J. Farrell MacDonald (Pug Malone), Dore Davidson (Channon Lipvitch), Sonia Nodalsky (Mrs. Lipvitch), June Collyer (Josephine), John Miltern (Gerrit Rantoul). Prod.: Fox Film Corporation. Pri. pro.: 9 ottobre 1927. 35mm. L.: 2493 m. D.: 91′ a 24 f/s. Bn.
Dwan spent much of the 20s working in (and out) of New York City, where he was free from the increasingly baleful influence of the studio supervisors on the West Coast. Released in 1927, East Side, West Side was the last of his New York films, and one could hardly ask for a more eloquent, affectionate letter of farewell. As the title suggests, the film pivots on the dual nature of Manhattan, as a home, on the Lower East Side, to a struggling immigrant population of Irish and Jews, and on the Upper West Side, as the domicile of the city’s rulingjh aristocracy of Protestant bankers and businessmen. George O’Brien, arriving fresh from Sunrise, is the transitional figure, a young outsider of obscure parentage who is symbolically reborn when the East River barge that has been his childhood home sinks beneath him, drowning his mother and adoptive father, and he swims ashore to the great city. At first, he is taken in by a Jewish family (with an attractive daughter, played by Virginia Valli, who takes a particular interest in him); later, as he achieves fame as a boxer, a distinguished businessman (Holmes Herbert) takes a mysterious interest in him, and invites him into his home where he can study to become an architect. O’Brien’s attention now turns to his benefactor’s beautiful ward, a society butterfly played by June Collyer. Throughout, Dwan makes an effortlessly metaphorical use of his locations, as O’Brien’s trajectory takes him from the depths of a subway excavation (where he is working as an engineer) to the top of a skyscraper of his own design. Plus, at no extra charge, the sinking of the Titanic.