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The Crowd

Posted by martinteller on April 17, 2009

I’ve said that Westerns are my least favorite type of film.  I think silent-era films are the runner-up.  While there aren’t many that I outright loathe, there’s only a couple I’ve bothered to watch more than once, and only a handful more that I would want to.  I like the ones that have some kind of avant-garde element to them… Un Chien Andalou, A Page of Madness, Metropolis, The Man With the Movie Camera.  For the rest, it’s usually a case of appreciating their influence and artistry at the time, but not especially enjoying them.  And it’s not because they’re silent… many of my favorite films have very very little dialogue.  It’s just that the storytelling in them is so unsophisticated.  And the humor is almost never funny to me.  I get a kick out of Buster Keaton sometimes, but I prefer Groucho Marx… or Jacques Tati.

With that out of the way, what makes The Crowd so special that it ranks #178 on the TSPDT 1000, despite being so hard to get hold of?  Well, King Vidor definitely pulls off some great shots, making excellent use of space and perspective, and utilizing a few techniques that were probably ahead of their time.  Other than that, however… it’s just a simplistic, unsurprising tale of a schlub trying to make it in the big city.  The schlub is not a particularly likeable guy, either.  He’s whiny and impulsive and kind of a jerk.  The film is moving, but only on the most basic level.  I wasn’t getting choked up or anything.  There are a couple of poetic moments (the irony of the juggling job, the final shot) but that’s it.  I can’t rightfully say it was an awful movie, but definitely not one I would watch again.  Rating: 6


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