|SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK
(directors: Zion Meyers/Jules White; screenwriters:
story by George
Landy and Paul Girard Smith/Robert E. Hopkins/Eric
Hatch/Willard Mack; cinematographer: Leonard Smith;
Hochberg; music: Domenico Savino;
Keaton (Harmon), Anita Page (Margie), Cliff Edwards
(Poggle), Frank Rowan (Butch), Norman Phillips, Jr.
(Clipper), Syd Saylor (Mulvaney); Runtime: 75;
MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lawrence Weingarten;
"Buster Keaton sold his rights to make films his own way to get a big fat contract from MGM, and a garbage pic like this one is what the studio cranked out for him."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Buster Keaton sold his
rights to make films his own way to get a big fat
contract from MGM, and a garbage pic like this one is
what the studio cranked out for him. This was a
decision he deeply regretted for the rest of his life
and many blame as the chief reason for killing his
promising genius start in films (The Navigator, 1924,
The General, 1926, Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)). This
talkie, given a high gloss look by the studio, turned
out to be a commercial success but a critical failure.
Though getting no laughs, the film made a great profit
by mastering how it was distributed.
This dreadful inert excuse
for a comedy was just not suited for Keaton. It
was co-directed by two mediocres, Zion
Meyers and Jules White, with Keaton given no artistic
say in the production. It's based on the story
by George Landy
and Paul Girard Smith, and is written by Robert E. Hopkins, Eric
Hatch and Willard Mack.
The effete Poggle (Cliff Edwards) returns to his
millionaire boss, Homer Van Dine Harmon (Buster Keaton), bruised and harried, after
the teenage residents of a slum tenement in the Lower
East gave him a rough time when he tried to collect
the rent. The clueless Harmon believes he can
communicate with the rowdies and goes to the slum in a
chauffeur driven limo with Poggle. Upon their arrival,
their car is pelted with debris and a street fight and
mini-riot breaks out. Harmon is attacked by teenage
street ruffian Clipper Kelly (Norman Phillips, Jr.) and the orphan's grownup
sister and legal guardian Margie (Anita Page). Despite
Margie's dislike of the high hat, he falls in love
with her at first sight. The landlord tries to win
Margie over by donating to the ghetto a neighborhood
gym and community center, showing her he cares about
underprivileged kids. When Margie gets the
neighborhood kids to attend the gym, despite Clipper
telling his boys to boycott the place, Harmon
expresses his love for Margie. To keep the kids
entertained, Margie arranges boxing matches. In one
such match Harmon fights a local champ, Mulvaney (Syd Saylor), and bribes him
to fix the fight. However, local gangster Butch (Frank Rowan) pays Mulvaney to fight for
real and he knocks out Harmon.
The rest of this dull film
has Margie and Harmon working together to prevent
Clipper from getting too deep into a life of crime
while working for Butch and committing robberies. That
they succeed is neither believable or funny.
REVIEWED ON 10/19/2011 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ