Docks of New York
“No film toward the end of the silent era was shot with more pictorial style than this glowing and romanticized creation of a wholly mythological and delightful New York Waterfront.” -James Card.
If only to confirm Chaplin's observation that the silent movies had learned their craft just about the time they went out of business, Docks of New York is an essential demonstration of the expressive potential of the silent film as a pure visual art. Controlling the gestures of his actors like a master choreographer, filling each image with the most sensual refinement of light and shadow, von Sternberg proves in Docks of New York that he was an inspired director before The Blue Angel and Marlene Dietrich established his reputation. Released about the same time as The Jazz Singer, Docks of New York quickly faded into undeserved obscurity: “... the greatest film von Sternberg ever made. He achieves a feeling of warmth and humanity - he seems to care about his characters, instead of using them as in some of his sound films merely to form patterns of light and shade. Docks of New York looks like a massed collaboration of the finest European and American directors, art directors, and lighting cameramen.” -Kevin Brownlow, “The Parade's Gone By”