King Vidor is probably one of my favorite director names in cinema – it just sounds so imposing and weighty: KING VIDOR. Anyway, The Crowd is a King Vidor picture starring some otherwise unknown names in an intentional bid to relate to the everyman of the era, or so the film comes across. The film is essentially about a New York nobody who was always told by his father that he was gonna be a real somebody someday, and the sad, slow realization that maybe he isn’t really gonna be the somebody he always dreamed he would be. It’s a downer of a tale, but it is a very engaging tale, as weird as that sounds (even if the script itself is a little shoehorned, more on that later).
The film seems to want to sell itself as a storied look at the urban run-of-the-mill lifestyle that herds people around like sheep in a pasture. Often we are shown shots of titular crowds of people going about their busy business in the hustle and bustle of the big city. The script was very basic and rudimentary, not really coloring outside the lines at all, so to speak. This can either keep a film rooted in the fundamentals of storytelling, or just seem hackneyed and cliched, and sadly in this case it’s the latter. The story was very telegraphed, and made no secret about where it was going or how it was getting there, which I found a bit tiresome. Thankfully, the camerawork made up for the lapse in screenplay; it was often very innovative and interesting to watch. The film also contains what may very well be some of the very first tilt-shift photography shots in cinema, which was quite interesting when I picked up on it.
I went into this film knowing very little, and came out sort of in the same position I started in. This isn’t a plot-driven film; it’s a mood picture, and the mood here is practically ennui in its sentimentality. I wasn’t as huge a fan of this as I noticed other bloggers seemed to be. I thought it was a well-done picture, and very uncompromising in a good way, but I didn’t find it to be the masterpiece everyone else thought this was. Maybe it was the script that continued to annoy me with its banal dialogue, maybe it was the lack of a real plot that would otherwise keep a film going, but whatever the reason, I walked away from this feeling like I had just seen a good picture, and that was it. Maybe your experience will vary from mine.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10