Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week

Posted By , , , and on Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 1:41 PM

click to enlarge LMAG_1213_CITYSTREETS.jpg

City Streets (1931)
Directed by Rouben Mamoulian
A lasting appeal of the gangster film is its fantasy of social mobility. We watch a little guy strive until reaching material success, at which point he loses our sympathies—unless, by some miracle, he returns to his roots. Hence runs this love story from the first great wave of Hollywood gangster movies. In it, a working-class girl named Nan (played by Sylvia Sidney) gets betrayed by her mobster stepfather and fears a similar thing happening with her beloved The Kid (Gary Cooper), a carnival fairgrounds employee to whom bootleggers offer dirty money in exchange for serving them exclusively. As he considers his choice and she pines for him, the lovers each appear isolated, small, and confined to shadowy space. They grow larger in stature, by contrast, when joining together. Cagney, Muni, and Robinson show that men who make themselves islands sink; for Nan and the Kid, their darling’s presence proves their greatest possible wealth. Aaron Cutler (Jun 20-22 at IFC Center, part of its Original Gangsters series)

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