large extracts from THIS REVIEW :
Everything’s goin’ to be roses…when my ship comes in,” – John Sims
Most films elevate their protagonist and try to make us believe they are something special. What King Vidor did with The Crowd is make one of the earliest and most influential films of realistic human struggle; a film about a man who was as ordinary as can be. Vidor didn’t believe in having heroes and villains. Instead, he felt we are basically anonymous and our destiny is largely out of our control.
Vidor sold the idea for The Crowd to Irving Thalberg as a sequel to his hit epic 1925 WWI film The Big Parade, which was the first success for newly formed MGM. Both are about battles fought by masses of ordinary people, but The Crowd focuses on just one individual whose struggles are representative of the collective whole.
Like The Big Parade, Vidor splits the film into two halves. Again, the first is light hearted, romantic, and comedic, while the second is a grim statement of human futility. Thalberg thought people wouldn’t pay to see this one though, and shelved The Crowd for a year. The film did fair poorly at the box office despite strong reviews, but has since been recognized as one of the seminal silent films.
Vidor’s story was too truthful and unsentimental for the escapist crowd. It combined what the people of the time valued – their goals, ambitions, and way of life – with what they were actually able to achieve. It’s not the American dream gone awry; it’s that the American dream is only truly attainable for the minutest percentage of the population. So the sadness of the film largely stems from the dream entailing fame and fortune, which means the vast majority are doomed to fail.
Subtitles:english intertitles (french hardsubbed)