Sunday, August 24, 2014

Street of Forgotten Men - a round-up of reviews

The Street of Forgotten Men, Louise Brooks' first film, was officially released on this day in 1925. The film is a drama, an underworld romance set among professional beggars in the Bowery of New York City. 

The film stars Percy Marmont as Easy Money Charlie, Mary Brian as Fancy Vanhern, Neil Hamilton as Philip Peyton, John Harrington as Bridgeport White-Eye, Juliet Brenon (the director's niece) as Portland Fancy, and Louise Brooks in an uncredited role as a Moll. Also uncredited in the film is Lassie, a dog.

The film is based on a short story by George Kibbe Turner which appeared in Liberty magazine only a few months earlier, on February 14, 1925. The Street of Forgotten Men was quite well regarded upon release, and Percy Marmont was singled out for his dramatic performance. Director Herbert Brenon was also praised for his realistic depiction of Bowery life. Brenon, who the year before had directed Peter Pan (1924), would go on to direct such classics as Beau Geste (1926), The Great Gatsby (1926), and Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928).

The Street of Forgotten Men was long thought lost, but six of its seven reels were found at the Library of Congress. Among the surviving footage is a scene which includes Brooks. I've seen it. The film is very good, and deserves to be widely released. Here is a round up of magazine and newspaper reviews and articles drawn from the Louise Brooks Society archive. [Here is the movie herald for that 1925 film. The front and back and the interior are pictured.]

Day, Dorothy. "Herbert Brenon Contributes Absorbing Film at Rivoli." Morning Telegraph, July 20, 1925.
--- "An absorbing story, done by a cast of people who really know how to act and directed in a skillful manner by Herbert Brenon."

Spain, Mildred. "Marmont Wears High Hat and Tin Cup in Rivoli Film." Daily News, July 21, 1925.
--- "The Street of Forgotten Men dips into the dark pools of life. It shows you the beggars of life - apologies to Jim Tully - and in showing them it shows them up."

Miles, Connie. "Reel Reviews." New York Evening World, July 21, 1925.
--- "A gripping story of the sordid side of life up to Broadway's Forties . . . one of those too rare offerings that have everything to be desired in a film production."

Nangle, Roberta. "You'll Like This Tale of Bowery Underworld." Chicago Tribune, July 28, 1925.
--- "It is a startling tale of Bowery life, of the soiled, tawdry ladies and broken men of the underworld. . . . Direction and photography are splendid, making the movie decidedly worth seeing."

Sewell, C. S. "Paramount Offers Very Out-of-the-Ordinary Story of the Underworld That Should Please Majority." Moving Picture World, August 1, 1925.
--- "This story is decidely impressive, out-of-the-ordinary and interesting and we believe that it will be quite generally liked."

anonymous. "The Street of Forgotten Men." Film Daily, August 2, 1925.
--- "Percy Marmont as a fake cripple beggar adds a choice one to the select list of outstanding character-creations of the screen."

Burrows, Dudley. "Granada's New Feature Tops Unholy Three." San Francisco Call and Post, August 10, 1925.
--- "Perhaps it is because The Street of Forgotten Men is more legitimately dramatic, and less frankly melodramatic than The Unholy Three."

Gillaspey, A. F. "Marmont Gives Wonderful Performances in Granada Film." San Francisco Bulletin, August 10, 1925. (United States) *
--- "For fine dramatic detail, for unusualness, for giving us a glimpse into a world we never see and into the other sides of characters we simply pass in pity on the streets, The Street of Forgotten Men is a photoplay revelation."

Warren, George C. "Best Available Films Offered Screen Fans - Greater Movie Season." San Francisco Chronicle, August 10, 1925.
--- "The Street of Forgotten Men, to which Herbert Brenon has lent the magic of his skill at direction, his ability to poeticize even the most sordid theme."

Carroll, Carroll. "The Reel Stuff." Judge, August 15, 1925.
--- "The Street of Forgotten Men is to a certain extent a de-hokumized Miracle Man."

anonymous. "Palace - The Street of Forgotten Men." Washington Star, August 17, 1925.
--- "Percy Marmont, as a bogus crippled beggar . . . has a role that is more closely akin to his great interpretation of Mark Sabre in If Winter Comes than any since the Hutchinson novel was put upon the screen. All of which means that this artist again has an excellent role for the display of his rare genius."

Talley, Alma. "The Street of Forgotten Men." Movie Weekly, August 22, 1925.
--- " . . . a film of real artistic merit, but it is sordid."

anonymous. "Marmont Metropolitan Star." Los Angeles Times, August 31, 1925. 
--- "And there was a little rowdy, obviously attached to the 'blind' man, who did some vital work during her few short scenes. She was not listed."

Boyd, Leonard. "Old Bowery Seen at Metropolitan." Los Angeles Examiner, August 31, 1925.
--- "Herbert Brenon has striven for realism but not morbidness. His interpretation throughout is sincere even to avoiding a sugar-coated ending."

Feldkamp, Frances V. "Movie Reviews." St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 7, 1925.
--- "Personally, it is depressing."

anonymous. "Underworld is Theme for Film at The Liberty." San Jose Mercury Herald, September 25, 1925. (United States) *
--- " . . . there is a series of smashing scenes that reveal the genius of Herbert Brenon."

K., K. T. "Asbestos." New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 25, 1925.
--- "Others in the cast are thoroughly competent. Neil Hamilton is quite charming."

B., M. "The Street of Forgotten Men - Paramount." Photoplay, October, 1925.
--- "Herbert Brenon, with the aid of a fine cast, headed by Percy Marmont, has made a gripping and entertaining picture."

anonymous. "Famous Screen Dog." New York Times, January 16, 1927.
--- "Lassie has acted with Percy Marmont in The Street of Forgotten Men. . . . It is said that the death of Lassie in The Street of Forgotten Men was so impressive that person were convinced that she must have been cruelly beaten. Her master, Emery Bronte, said that the dog seemed to enjoy acting in the scenes, and that after each 'take' she went over to Mr. Brenon and cocked her head on the side, as if asking for a pat or two." 

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