Often described as “the first American independent film”, von Sternberg’s The Salvation Hunters is an austere and obscurely naturalist drama about “humans who crawl near the floor.”
“It’s hard now to appreciate the bomb-shell that Sternberg’s first feature must have been in Hollywood at the time: its slow pace, its lyrical pessimism, and its strong emphasis on the psychological over the physical set it far apart from anything that the American cinema had produced” (Tony Rayns, Time Out Film Guide). Shot for less than five thousand dollars in the span of three weeks, the groundbreaking Salvation Hunters announced the emergence of a major new talent, even if audiences of the day didn’t quite know what to make of its grimy settings, glum tone, and overt symbolizing. The film follows “The Boy” and “The Girl” as they escape the deplorable living conditions of their riverfront home to the city, only to encounter “The Brute,” who is hell-bent on having the girl to himself. “A starkly poetic tale of poverty and depression which, after being hissed at its premiere, was hailed as a masterpiece by Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin” (Tag Gallagher, senses of cinema).
3.24GB | 1h 9mn | 960×720 | mkv