STREET SCENE (1931)

Producer Samuel Goldwyn went for prestige when he filmed Elmer Rice’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play in 1931 and it paid off. It helped greatly that he made King Vidor director, as Vidor was an expert at dealing with social issues. Early on, Vidor opted not to open up the story set in front of a block of apartment buildings. Instead, he worked with cinematographer George Barnes to use creative camera work to keep the picture moving. Set on one day on a New York street during which a man kills his cheating wife and her lover, he never used the same camera setup twice. Goldwyn imported several actors from the New York cast, including Beulah Bondi and John Qualen, in their movie debuts. He also borrowed Sylvia Sidney from Paramount to play the young woman who loses her parents in a single act of violence. The role made her a major star. Vidor brought in Broadway composer and conductor Alfred Newman to write the music, his first full film score. Newman’s main theme became one of the definitive depictions of New York City life, used in dozens of later films. This print was preserved at the UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by the AFI/NEA. (d. King Vidor, 80m, DCP)

In attendance: LEONARD MALTIN