Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The film centers on ambitious but undisciplined New York City office worker John Sims (played by James Murray ) who meets and marries Mary (Eleanor Boardman). They start a family, struggle to cope with marital stress, financial setbacks, and tragedy, all while lost amid the anonymous, pitiless throngs of the big city.
Making of the film
The Crowd mixes striking visual styles and moving camera cinematography (heavily influenced by German films) with intense, intimate scenes of the family's poignant struggle. Director King Vidor avoided casting big-name stars in the film to attain greater authenticity (Murray was a studio extra, and Boardman was Vidor's second wife.) Vidor's great financial success at MGM in the 1920's allowed him to sell the unusual scenario to production head Irving Thalberg as an experimental film. MGM chief Louis B. Mayer reportedly disliked the film for its bleak subject matter and lack of a happy ending. In fact, several alternate upbeat endings were filmed and previewed at the studio's insistence, but Vidor perservered and the film was released with the original, logical conclusion. The Crowd was not a great success upon its initial release, but the film has been consistently hailed as one of the greatest and most enduring American silent films.
Vidor used the John and Mary Sims characters again (with different actors) in his 1934 film Our Daily Bread . He also provided an insightful interview on the making of the film in a segment of the 1980 documentary "Hollywood", by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill. Vidor wrote an unrealized screenplay based on the tragic life of The Crowd lead actor James Murray , who fell on hard times eerily similar to those of the character for which he is remembered.
Awards and Archival
The Crowd was written by King Vidor and John V.A. Weaver , and Vidor was nominated for Best Director. It was among the first group of films designated for preservation in the United States National Film Registry. Composer Carl Davis created an orchestral score for the film in the early 1980's, and it was released on video in conjunction with MGM and British television Thames Silents series in the late 1980's.
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