Next on the list is Josef von Sternberg’s The Docks of New York based on the novel The Dock Walloper by John Monk Saunders. This film is about a ship stoker who rescues a prostitute after she tries to commit suicide, marries her, and contemplates with himself whether he made the right decision.
I found the way the whole dynamic situation of two people getting married on the same day they met to be handled much differently than any other film I’ve seen. It seems as if the character of Bill is blaming Mae for wanting to be with him. I guess the whole “till death do you part” thing didn’t really sink in with Bill. As soon they get married, he says that he was just having fun and that she should have known that he was going to leave immediately out to sea because of his job. He makes her feel like the guilty party! Unless you have a one-night stand in a “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” way, no one in their right mind would get married because it’s a “fun thing” to do. How do you feel about that situation?
So this film definitely proves that love really can turn people into fools. When Mae is accused of a crime her husband committed, he has to choose whether to let his wife take the fall or if he’ll step up. The ending definitely reminded me of the ending from The Crying Game if anyone ever saw that one. It seems like this was a story that really could have been told in twenty minutes instead of an hour and fifteen minutes. I also find it fascinating how prostitutes are shown on-screen in the 20s because obviously they aren’t allowed to show any sexual content or even example what they even do. You just knew back then that’s what they were because of their flashy outfits and bantering with strange men in bars. You’ll see for yourself what I mean.
Here is Josef von Sternberg’s The Docks of New York and let me know what you think: