This week’s selection is a gem – Street Scene is King Vidor’s screen adaptation of Elmer Rice’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name (Rice also adapted the play for the screen). Street Scene stars an ensemble cast that includes Beulah Bondi (who in reprising her stage role makes her feature film debut), Sylvia Sidney and William Collier, Jr.
The film takes place on a single block of Manhattan tenements. Amidst this setting, we are introduced to a diverse group of people who are representative of the living conditions for many newly arrived immigrants to New York City during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Of course, the narrative zeroes in on a couple of families, but the interaction among all of the tenements’ inhabitants means that their lives are completely intertwined.
We are witness to their joy, hopes and fears and, in the final movement, tragedy. At a speedy 80 minute running time, I found it an engrossing piece of cinema that transfers well from the stage.