The Crowd

King Vidor

Sog.: King Vidor; Scen.: King Vidor, John V.A. Weaver, Harry Behn; F.: Henry Sharp; Mo.: Hugh Wynn; Scgf.: Cedric Gibbons, Arnold Gillespie; Co.: André-ani; Int.: James Murray (John Sims), Eleanor Boardman (Mary Sims), Bert Roach (Bert), Estelle Clark (Jane), Daniel G. Tomlinson (Jim), Dell Henderson (Dick), Lucy Beaumont (la madre di Mary), Freddie Burke Frederick (il figlio), Alice Mildred Puter (la figlia), Claude Payton, Warner B. Richmond, Virginia Sale; Prod.: Irving Thalberg, King Vidor per MGM; Pri. pro.: 3 marzo 1928  35mm. D.: 103’ a 22 f/s. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The theme of human isolation in the city – a social microcosm – is dealt with better in Paul Fejos’s Lonesome (1928) and Murnau’s The Last Laugh (1924). Vidor does make the drama of the average man’s solitude among the masses more complex with the need for success that America imposes on its citizens. As one of the intertitles basically says, being part of the crowd, one of its numbers, sharing in its solidarity means being integrated, playing its game, not having particular needs or problems. For this price (…) the crowd offers a rain of power and joy, at its worse indifference. It is not evil. Being recognized by the crowd, accepted or loved by it, means having left it, it means success. The dilemma that Vidor presents is thus a deadlock because in either case, inside or outside the crowd, anonymous or “someone”, you must first be successful. The argument becomes much subtler (at the price of being less evident): Vidor could have put on trial a nation that needs great men (Bertolt Brecht believed that countries in need of great men are miserable nations), that involves everyone in a need for individual victory, personal supremacy, and that is perfectly incapable of guaranteeing everyone the result of being distinguished. Such a judgment emerges when the hero dismisses the “exceptional” success (which his wife throws in his face as an example) of his best friend Ben (Bert Roach), due, he claims, to being a boot licker. It becomes even clearer when the slogan writing contests and institutional success appear as tools of integration and of alienation with dashed hopes. The real drama of The Crowd, Jon Sims (James Murray) drama, is really about ambition.

Barthélémy Amengual, Entre l’horizon d’un seul et l’horizon de tous, “Positif”, n. 161, September 1974

This score is actually a collage of many elements. First there is prerecorded music from Béla Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin and from Charles Mingus’ compositions 1 X Love and Celia. Secondly there is music that have specifically composed for this film, performed live by a jazz group with elements of improvisation. Third is a layer of special effects performed by the musicians in sync with the picture. Fourth is a level of live and pre-recorded sound layers.

Henrik Otto Donner

Da: Photoplay Productions con concessione di Warner Bros