0042: The Docks of New York (1928)

The Docks of New York.jpg

Rating: 8/10

You ever find yourself watching a foreign film and your brain kind of forgets that the whole thing is in another language? That happened to me here with this silent film and I kept forgetting that it was completely silent. This movie was made while we were transition from the silent era into solely making “talkies.” They aren’t out the door yet when this was made, and it was done so with a lot of modern techniques that makes it feel like it was made ten years later. This comes from its cinematography, the use of camera angles and lighting makes the movie seem much more modern than it is.

This movie is about 1 hour 15 minutes long and it uses it’s time wisely. If I were teaching a class, I’d use this as an example of a movie that is perfectly paced. It’s neither a fast pace nor one that’s too slow. But it does do enough in each scene to convey it’s ideas or develope it’s characters to then bring us into the next scene and next part of the story. Being that most films I see have at least some pacing issues (and there’s really no excuse for it) watching a movie with really good pacing throughout is very refreshing, for me anyway. Maybe that has something to do with forcing myself to watching random movies on a random list all the time, but at the same time I never know when I’m going to find a hidden gem like this, or Modern Times, or Me and My Gal, or something I haven’t even seen yet! Oh I’m so excited! And will be until I watch another Dangerous Liaisons or Red Psalm. Damn, now I’m sad again, and that just makes me ANGRY!

Oh, unrelated to anything, but something I’ve noticed is that if a movie on this list is more recent and I’ve never heard of it before then I usually don’t like it, but earlier movies that I equally didn’t know about is usually good. Though maybe that shows just how ignorant I am of the movies from older than about 50 years ago…Wait, what was I talking about? Oh right! This review!

Okay, this movie had a simple story, with some great acting. The story is about Bill Roberts, played by the 1928 version of John Wayne, George Bancroft, who saves Mae, played by Betty Compson, after she falls from the docks into the ocean and almost drowns. What follows is a somewhat comedic and somewhat dramatic, kind of romantic movie that’s both funny and sweet and well-acted and just a good film all around. You might consider it an early rom-com, and I wouldn’t disagree with you. This movie does a really good job of telling the story it has, despite being somewhat simple and maybe a bit cliche. Oh, speaking of cliches, this movie loses points for ending in a courtroom. I don’t know who said at what point that “if you’re making a film, you’ve got to end it in a courtroom Johnnie!” but it’s a super-cliche I’ve noticed of many films between a certain era. Maybe 30s-50s ish? Being this is just before that I’m going to strongly suspect this was somehow the start of all that.

Why you should watch it before you die: It’s a movie with a lot of heart and though it tells a simple story, it tells it so well you won’t even notice you’re watching a silent film.

SCORING:

+7.5: Really good early rom-com

+1.5: Good cinematography and lighting effects

+1: great acting

-2: Being the start of a cliche (probably) that doesn’t even make sense. I mean, why does the movie have to end in a courtroom? Is the judge supposed to represent God and this is something super deep I’m just not getting? Or was it some kind of US law that said if you show anyone commit a crime in your movie they have to be punished? If so, why do they only get punished at the end of the movie? I don’t get it…

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