Cast and Crew: Irving Thalberg (Producer); Bert Roach
What It’s About: John (James Murray) is born in 1900 on the Fourth of July, with seemingly endless possibility ahead of him. John, assured of this destiny, moves to New York City as a young man, but life has other plans for him…
Why Watch it Today?: Writer/Director King Vidor chooses today’s date for John’s birthday to emphasize his all American everyman nature-and his mistaken belief in his guaranteed success in life. The Crowd was one of the last great silent films, a testament to the ability of films without words to be every bit as good as their talking counterparts-indeed, it would take years for sound technology to catch up and allow the kind of location shooting and fluid camerawork that is present in today’s film.
Where to Get It: If you’re lucky, you might find it on VHS at your local library or maybe you can catch it sometime on TCM. The Crowd has, unjustly, never been released on DVD or Blu-Ray, and is not available legitimately streaming at this time. Write your congressman! (Or maybe the Criterion guys?)
No trailer, but this clip features shots of NYC, then moves into the nightmarish, German Expressionist inspired office that John inhabits as a minor clerk:
It’s also listed in “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”, which makes its scarcity even more galling.
It’s a god damned shame, though of course I am a spoiled bastard who saw it in a theater screening with live music.