Dream Street (1921)

Allegory | 25 April 1921

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HISTORY

According to the 25 Jan 1921 Wid’s Daily, production began at filmmaker D. W. Griffith’s Mamaroneck, NY, studio under the working title, Flaming Lamps. Although the 17 Apr 1921 Wid’s Daily review noted that the picture was adapted from two Thomas Burke short stories, “Gina of Chinatown” and “The Lamp in the Window,” the 21 Aug 1921 issue of The Photodramatist asserted that Griffith had devised an original story for Burke’s characters. The 11 Feb 1921 Var announced that principal photography was nearly complete, following the first round of editing.
       The following month, a 25 Mar 1921 Wid’s Daily item reported that a twelve-reel version was screened in Stamford, CT, before Griffith made further cuts for the theatrical release, which was still expected to exceed nine reels. A charity premiere was held at the private New York City residence of Mrs. Vincent Astor on 6 Apr 1921.
       Although the New York City release at the Central Theatre was originally scheduled for 7 Apr 1921, the film did not open until 12 Apr 1921, according to that day’s Wid’s Daily. The 17 Apr 1921 review stated that general release was scheduled for 25 Apr 1921, but its present length of 10,000 feet, which was too long for “average” movie houses, would likely cause problems for exhibitors. Sources conflict on the film's length in feet and reels—some listed it at 11,000 feet, while others list it as nine or ten reels at its premiere.
       According to the 1 May 1921 NYT, Dream Street was expected to move to New York City’s Town Hall ... More Less

According to the 25 Jan 1921 Wid’s Daily, production began at filmmaker D. W. Griffith’s Mamaroneck, NY, studio under the working title, Flaming Lamps. Although the 17 Apr 1921 Wid’s Daily review noted that the picture was adapted from two Thomas Burke short stories, “Gina of Chinatown” and “The Lamp in the Window,” the 21 Aug 1921 issue of The Photodramatist asserted that Griffith had devised an original story for Burke’s characters. The 11 Feb 1921 Var announced that principal photography was nearly complete, following the first round of editing.
       The following month, a 25 Mar 1921 Wid’s Daily item reported that a twelve-reel version was screened in Stamford, CT, before Griffith made further cuts for the theatrical release, which was still expected to exceed nine reels. A charity premiere was held at the private New York City residence of Mrs. Vincent Astor on 6 Apr 1921.
       Although the New York City release at the Central Theatre was originally scheduled for 7 Apr 1921, the film did not open until 12 Apr 1921, according to that day’s Wid’s Daily. The 17 Apr 1921 review stated that general release was scheduled for 25 Apr 1921, but its present length of 10,000 feet, which was too long for “average” movie houses, would likely cause problems for exhibitors. Sources conflict on the film's length in feet and reels—some listed it at 11,000 feet, while others list it as nine or ten reels at its premiere.
       According to the 1 May 1921 NYT, Dream Street was expected to move to New York City’s Town Hall community center the following evening. There, audiences were able to view a “spoken” version of the film, in which a vocal soundtrack was synchronized with select scenes featuring Tyrone Power and Ralph Graves. Griffith also recorded an introduction. This marked the first time the Photokinema system, developed by Orlando Kellum, was used on a feature-length film. Although the device had been streamlined for the ease of projectionists, exhibition was limited to the few theaters in which it was already installed.
       A 21 May 1921 Exhibitors Herald article noted that Dream Street was used in a psychological survey conducted by John Hopkins University to determine what percentage of a motion picture humans are able to retain after viewing, and which scenes are most affective. Griffith agreed to the study, and arranged free screenings for test subjects all across the country.
       According to the Jul—Dec 1921 issue of Photoplay, Dream Street marked the theatrical acting debut of Charles Emmett Mack, who previously worked in the props department at Griffith’s studio.
       The 17 Apr 1921 Wid’s Daily stated that Richard Wagner’s “Song To The Evening Star” was featured heavily in Louis Silvers’s musical score.
       The Jun 1922 issue of The Educational Screen listed Dream Street as one of the year’s “Ten Worst Productions (of those reviewed so far).” It called the film “Mawkish in its over-symbolism." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Herald
21 May 1921
p. 42.
New York Times
1 May 1921
p. 79.
Photoplay
Jul--Dec 1921
p. 108.
The Educational Screen
Jun 1922
p. 203.
The Photodramatist
Aug 1921
p. 14.
Variety
11 Feb 1921
p. 46.
Variety
15 Apr 1921
p. 40.
Wid's Daily
25 Jan 1921
p. 6.
Wid's Daily
25 Mar 1921
p. 4.
Wid's Daily
12 Apr 1921.
---
Wid's Daily
17 Apr 1921
p. 3.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
FILM EDITORS
Film cont
Film cont
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus arr
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech superintendent
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short stories "Gina of Chinatown" and "The Lamp in the Window," in Limehouse Nights by Thomas Burke (London, 1916).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Flaming Lamps
Release Date:
25 April 1921
Premiere Information:
New York charity premiere: 6 April 1921
New York premiere: 12 April 1921
Sound opening at Town Hall center: 2 May 1921
Production Date:
January--February 1921
Copyright Claimant:
D. W. Griffith, Inc.
Copyright Date:
14 June 1921
Copyright Number:
LP16672
Physical Properties:
Silent
Silent with sound sequences
Black and White
Length(in feet):
11,000
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Gypsy Fair, a music hall dancer, is admired by Spike McFadden, a swaggering bully with a golden voice, and his brother, Billy, a timid and frail composer and poet. She is also coveted by Swan Way, a Chinaman who seeks vengeance when Gypsy not only rejects him but reveals his secret gambling den. One of Swan Way's followers attempts to rob Billy, and when the boy kills him, Spike assumes guilt for the crime and Swan Way makes it appear that Gypsy has betrayed him to the police. At the inquest, Billy saves Spike by a last-minute confession and is acquitted on a verdict of self-defense. Billy achieves fame as a composer, while Spike and Gypsy sign a contract with an important theatrical ... +


Gypsy Fair, a music hall dancer, is admired by Spike McFadden, a swaggering bully with a golden voice, and his brother, Billy, a timid and frail composer and poet. She is also coveted by Swan Way, a Chinaman who seeks vengeance when Gypsy not only rejects him but reveals his secret gambling den. One of Swan Way's followers attempts to rob Billy, and when the boy kills him, Spike assumes guilt for the crime and Swan Way makes it appear that Gypsy has betrayed him to the police. At the inquest, Billy saves Spike by a last-minute confession and is acquitted on a verdict of self-defense. Billy achieves fame as a composer, while Spike and Gypsy sign a contract with an important theatrical production. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.