The Docks of New York

The Docks of New York ★★★★

Josef von Sternberg yet again displays his mastery of the visual in this richly photographed story of low-lifers down by the docks. It's a slight tale about the chance coming together of an ill-matched pair (George Bancroft and Betty Compson) but it carries the whiff of reality.

The Docks of New York refuses to sentimentalise the roughness of these people who have clearly been round the block several dozens of times. The men look like they are stoking coal on ships from dawn till dusk and the women look like they hang around seedy waterfront bars from dusk till dawn. The beauty of the camerawork and the shabbiness of the environs mesh together wonderfully.

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