The Crowd (1928)

98 mins | Drama | 3 March 1928

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HISTORY

The Crowd was the film that director King Vidor made following his highly acclaimed and financially successful The Big Parade . In his 1953 autobiography, Vidor stated that he and Harry Behn wrote the original story for The Crowd under the title The Mob, and that he searched a long time to find the right, unknown actor to bring credibility and an “Everyman” quality to the role of "John Sims." Vidor claimed that James Murray, the actor he finally selected had been working as an extra, but Murray had already appeared in featured roles. Eleanor Boardman, then married to Vidor, was cast as "Mary Sims."
       Contemporary sources state that Vidor used a concealed camera to shoot several of the New York street sequences. M-G-M, fearful of the public’s reaction to the film’s grim theme, is reported to have held up its release for a year, while trying out various endings. According to Vidor's autobiography, seven different endings were shot and tried out at previews in small towns. Finally, the film was released with two endings; the one in the released [and viewed] film, Vidor’s preference, and another a more upbeat ending with the family gathered around a Christmas tree after John has secured a position with an advertising firm as a result of his slogan writing. Exhibitors could choose which ending to run, but Vidor stated that the Christmas ending was very seldom used.
       The Crowd was generally well received by the major critics, the NYT describing it as “substantial and worthy,” and although Var called it “a drab actionless story of ungodly length and ... More Less

The Crowd was the film that director King Vidor made following his highly acclaimed and financially successful The Big Parade . In his 1953 autobiography, Vidor stated that he and Harry Behn wrote the original story for The Crowd under the title The Mob, and that he searched a long time to find the right, unknown actor to bring credibility and an “Everyman” quality to the role of "John Sims." Vidor claimed that James Murray, the actor he finally selected had been working as an extra, but Murray had already appeared in featured roles. Eleanor Boardman, then married to Vidor, was cast as "Mary Sims."
       Contemporary sources state that Vidor used a concealed camera to shoot several of the New York street sequences. M-G-M, fearful of the public’s reaction to the film’s grim theme, is reported to have held up its release for a year, while trying out various endings. According to Vidor's autobiography, seven different endings were shot and tried out at previews in small towns. Finally, the film was released with two endings; the one in the released [and viewed] film, Vidor’s preference, and another a more upbeat ending with the family gathered around a Christmas tree after John has secured a position with an advertising firm as a result of his slogan writing. Exhibitors could choose which ending to run, but Vidor stated that the Christmas ending was very seldom used.
       The Crowd was generally well received by the major critics, the NYT describing it as “substantial and worthy,” and although Var called it “a drab actionless story of ungodly length and apparently telling nothing,” the film was reasonably popular and grossed twice its cost. It was voted one of the “Top Best Features” of 1928 by the 1929 Film Daily Year Book, as reported in the Feb 7, 1930 FD.
       Murray subsequently appeared in other films and Vidor wanted to star him in Our Daily Bread (1934), but Murray had become an alcoholic. He died in Jul 1936 in what appeared to be a drowning accident in New York’s East River. The Crowd was restored in 1981 by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill, with a new score by Carl Davis. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
26 Feb 1928
p. 6.
Film Daily
7 Feb 1930
p. 8.
New Republic
7 Mar 1928
pp. 98-99.
New York Times
20 Feb 1928
p. 14.
Photoplay
1 Dec 1927
p. 52.
The Film Spectator
14 Apr 1928
pp. 6-7.
Variety
22 Feb 1928
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A King Vidor Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PHOTOGRAPHY
Chief cine
ART DIRECTORS
Settings
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Ward
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Mob
Release Date:
3 March 1928
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 18 February 1928
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Copyright Date:
3 March 1928
Copyright Number:
LP25202
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
98
Length(in feet):
8,538, 8,548
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

John Sims has believed since childhood that he would become somebody important. However, John's father, who had hoped to provide his son with many opportunities for success, died young, changing John's fortunes and forcing him into the working crowd. By age twenty-one, John is an anonymous clerk in the gigantic Atlas Insurance Co. in New York. Bert, one of his co-workers, arranges a blind date for John with Mary, a friend of Bert's girlfriend. After spending a pleasant evening at the Coney Island amusement park with Mary, John asks her to marry him. She agrees and they honeymoon at Niagara Falls. Although John has promised Mary an opulent home “when his ship comes in,” they move into a very modest apartment adjacent to the El tracks. On Christmas Eve, Mary’s deaf mother and her two prosperous brothers Jim and Dick, who are antagonistic towards John, visit them for dinner. When John goes to Bert's to pick up some liquor, he finds a party in progress and returns home drunk, long after his guests have left. Mary forgives him, but by April they are squabbling about problems with the apartment and about her appearance. However, all that is forgotten when Mary tells John that she is expecting a baby. In October, when a baby boy is born, John tells Mary that this is the impetus he has needed to make him try harder and promises to become “somebody.” Five years pass and a baby girl is added to the family. In the interim, John has received only a modest increase in pay and it is clear that he has not distinguished himself from the others in the “crowd”. Mary ... +


John Sims has believed since childhood that he would become somebody important. However, John's father, who had hoped to provide his son with many opportunities for success, died young, changing John's fortunes and forcing him into the working crowd. By age twenty-one, John is an anonymous clerk in the gigantic Atlas Insurance Co. in New York. Bert, one of his co-workers, arranges a blind date for John with Mary, a friend of Bert's girlfriend. After spending a pleasant evening at the Coney Island amusement park with Mary, John asks her to marry him. She agrees and they honeymoon at Niagara Falls. Although John has promised Mary an opulent home “when his ship comes in,” they move into a very modest apartment adjacent to the El tracks. On Christmas Eve, Mary’s deaf mother and her two prosperous brothers Jim and Dick, who are antagonistic towards John, visit them for dinner. When John goes to Bert's to pick up some liquor, he finds a party in progress and returns home drunk, long after his guests have left. Mary forgives him, but by April they are squabbling about problems with the apartment and about her appearance. However, all that is forgotten when Mary tells John that she is expecting a baby. In October, when a baby boy is born, John tells Mary that this is the impetus he has needed to make him try harder and promises to become “somebody.” Five years pass and a baby girl is added to the family. In the interim, John has received only a modest increase in pay and it is clear that he has not distinguished himself from the others in the “crowd”. Mary tells him that she does not believe that his “ship” is ever going to arrive. John, who has a hobby of devising advertising slogans, enters a contest and wins five hundred dollars. When John returns home laden with presents for Mary and the children, who are playing across the street, he and Mary call them to come to see their new toys. As the children head home, the little girl is hit by a truck and subsequently dies. John and Mary are grief-stricken and although Mary recovers from the loss, John does not. Unable to concentrate on his job, he breaks down and quits on the eve of the company’s boat ride and picnic without telling Mary. At the company picnic, Mary asks Bert, who is now in a managerial position, to help John advance in the organization. John is then forced to admit that he has quit his job. Mary comforts him by telling him that there are many better jobs, but John encounters only disenchantment and rejection in looking for employment, forcing Mary to take on work as a dressmaker. After John dismisses a job offer from Mary’s brothers as charity, Mary calls him a bluffer and a quitter and slaps him. Later, after considering suicide, John’s spirits are raised by his little son and he lands a steady job as a juggling, sandwich-board man promoting a restaurant, a job he had scoffed at on his first date with Mary. When he returns home, he finds Mary leaving to live with her brothers. Believing that his luck has turned, John has brought her a small bouquet and tickets for a vaudeville theater that evening and is able to convince her not to leave him. John, Mary and their son attend the show and are delighted to see that John’s advertising slogan is featured in the theater’s printed program. Finally feeling at one with the "crowd," John and Mary laugh heartily at a comic acrobat act and look forward to a brighter future.

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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.