DREAM STREET (1921)

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
  • Author
  • Message
Online
User avatar

drednm

  • Posts: 6459
  • Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:41 pm
  • Location: Belgrade Lakes, ME

DREAM STREET (1921)

PostWed Feb 15, 2017 8:30 pm

Watched this today. Had probably seen in 20 years ago. Not sure what I think. The copy I have, with droning organ score, clocked in at 2 hours and 20 minutes so it was probably copied at the wrong speed. Film takes place in London's Limehouse district and concerns a dancer (Carol Dempster), two brothers (Ralph Graves, Charles Emmett Mack), and assorted colorful characters who represent good and evil. Source material are stories by Thomas Burke, same author whose story gave us Broken Blossoms and the Colleen Moore film Twinkletoes, all of which have white girls "involved" with Chinese men.

Griffith seems to have filmed this one between Way Down East and Orphans of the Storm and maybe there was overlap. Although it's hard to tell from such a draggy copy, the pacing of Dream Street seems erratic, the sets dreary, the acting uneven. But there are some brilliant moments. I don't dislike Dempster though a lot of people do. I think she was excellent in several other films. Here, the 20-year-old seems out of her depth, or maybe Griffith was directing her as if she were Mae Marsh or a Gish sister. Mack does far too much grimacing. Graves in many ways gives the best performance that seems to spin from stock character performance to brilliance.

Griffith must have considered this a major production and not just a filler between big projects. He filmed a talkie intro with himself and a couple of sound sequences (Graves singing and a dice game scene).

I notice YT boasts a few 100-minutes versions. I may check them out tomorrow.....
Ed Lorusso
Writer/Historian
-------------
http://www.amazon.com/Edward-Lorusso/e/ ... 203&sr=8-1
Offline
User avatar

EdibleCamphor

  • Posts: 23
  • Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:04 pm
  • Location: Little Old New York

Re: DREAM STREET (1921)

PostWed Feb 15, 2017 10:15 pm

I actually have the original screenplay of this film. A pretty terrible film but it's still my prized possession.
Film Writer, Director, Actor, Historian, and Bespectacled Young Man.
Offline

Big Silent Fan

  • Posts: 830
  • Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2009 8:54 pm

Re: DREAM STREET (1921)

PostThu Feb 16, 2017 8:25 am

Thanks for posting Ed since I've wanted to watch this ever since I first saw and heard the film clip of D.W. Griffith promoting the film.
Instead of what you watched, I found the 100 minute complete film on YouTube with a nicely done score. As for correct film speed, while this faster film seemed quite natural it was impossible to completely read any of the titles when more than a sentence or two long. It also had French titles superimposed on the intertitles, sometimes blocking the final English words. Unfortunately, since all the story occurs at night, a lot of what I watched was 'dark shadows' with white collars or faces on the screen. In spite of all that, I did follow the film carefully.
The story was very erratic and I couldn't help wondering what the actors in the film must have thought to themselves while the film was being made. Surely they knew they were all overacting.
Like most all of Griffith's films, this morality tale is mostly about the difference between "Lust" and "Love." Griffith doesn't hide this, even telling the audience in the beginning that the 'street preacher' represents good while the violin player represents evil. The two brothers, central to the story each possess a 'Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde' personality in the story. This made the story quite complex since they would alternately become the villain or hero. Seeing a character change from selfish lust to a loving person seldom happens in film. Something similar occurs at the end of "Flesh and the Devil."
I'm glad to have finally watched it, but Griffith certainly must have been a demanding director to accomplish so much excessive melodramatic acting.

https://search.aol.com/aol/video?q=drea ... -searchbox" target="_blank" target="_blank
Online
User avatar

drednm

  • Posts: 6459
  • Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:41 pm
  • Location: Belgrade Lakes, ME

Re: DREAM STREET (1921)

PostThu Feb 16, 2017 8:51 am

Big Silent Fan wrote:Thanks for posting Ed since I've wanted to watch this ever since I first saw and heard the film clip of D.W. Griffith promoting the film.
Instead of what you watched, I found the 100 minute complete film on YouTube with a nicely done score. As for correct film speed, while this faster film seemed quite natural it was impossible to completely read any of the titles when more than a sentence or two long. It also had French titles superimposed on the intertitles, sometimes blocking the final English words. Unfortunately, since all the story occurs at night, a lot of what I watched was 'dark shadows' with white collars or faces on the screen. In spite of all that, I did follow the film carefully.
The story was very erratic and I couldn't help wondering what the actors in the film must have thought to themselves while the film was being made. Surely they knew they were all overacting.
Like most all of Griffith's films, this morality tale is mostly about the difference between "Lust" and "Love." Griffith doesn't hide this, even telling the audience in the beginning that the 'street preacher' represents good while the violin player represents evil. The two brothers, central to the story each possess a 'Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde' personality in the story. This made the story quite complex since they would alternately become the villain or hero. Seeing a character change from selfish lust to a loving person seldom happens in film. Something similar occurs at the end of "Flesh and the Devil."
I'm glad to have finally watched it, but Griffith certainly must have been a demanding director to accomplish so much excessive melodramatic acting.

https://search.aol.com/aol/video?q=drea ... -searchbox" target="_blank" target="_blank" target="_blank


Thanks for the analysis. I'm sorry I labored thru the 140-minute version, although I could read all the intertitles (no French). As with many Griffith films, the intertitles are too long, and while the film is a morality play, the intertitles don't ALL have to be preachy.

There's almost an "operatic" feel to the film with the "heightened" acting and the plot that requires the duality of the characters. Dempster has the most straight-forward role, but aside from the dancing (one bit in slow motion) she seems forced to play Mae Marsh. In thinking about this film, Graves really does turn in a good performance with the good-vs-evil sides fighting for control, and he's able to create facial expressions that clearly show these sides.

Judicious editing might have created a terrific 75-minute film.
Ed Lorusso
Writer/Historian
-------------
http://www.amazon.com/Edward-Lorusso/e/ ... 203&sr=8-1
Offline

Big Silent Fan

  • Posts: 830
  • Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2009 8:54 pm

Re: DREAM STREET (1921)

PostThu Feb 16, 2017 9:03 am

drednm wrote:
Judicious editing might have created a terrific 75-minute film.


There you go!

I couldn't have said it better.
Offline

Big Silent Fan

  • Posts: 830
  • Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2009 8:54 pm

Re: DREAM STREET (1921)

PostThu Feb 16, 2017 1:37 pm

That synchronized introduction by D. W. Griffith was a sound-on-disc recording. That, and at least two other synchronized sound segments were available for theatres capable of playing sound. I haven't found it on YouTube, but learned that it was part of the film, more than five years before "The Jazz Singer."
Quote: The original 1921 version of Dream Street is notable for a brief sequence when Griffith steps out in front of a curtain at the beginning of the movie and talks to the audience about the film, using Photokinema, an early sound-on-disc process developed by Orlando Kellum. Some films made in the Photokinema process, including Griffith's Dream Street introduction at the beginning, are preserved at the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

The silent version premiered on April 12, 1921 at the Central Theatre in New York City. On April 27, Griffith and Ralph Graves recorded their respective sound segments at Orlando Kellum's Photokinema office at 203 West 40th Street.[1][2]

The premiere engagement of the sound version of Dream Street took place on May 2, 1921 at Town Hall in New York City with Griffith's introduction.
Offline
User avatar

Donald Binks

  • Posts: 2410
  • Joined: Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:08 am
  • Location: Somewhere, over the rainbow

Re: DREAM STREET (1921)

PostThu Feb 16, 2017 2:09 pm

Big Silent Fan wrote:That synchronized introduction by D. W. Griffith was a sound-on-disc recording. That, and at least two other synchronized sound segments were available for theatres capable of playing sound. .....[/i]


I have heard and seen the Griffith introduction, as it is featured in the "Hollywood"s series - but I wonder whether the other sound segments to the picture still exist? I also ponder on whether the original sound performances numbered more than the one? Amplification would have been a problem would it not back in '21?
Regards from
Donald Binks

"I tawt I taw a Pooty Tat. I did! I did taw a Pooty Tat!
Offline

Big Silent Fan

  • Posts: 830
  • Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2009 8:54 pm

Re: DREAM STREET (1921)

PostThu Feb 16, 2017 2:18 pm

Yes, I first saw this sound recording in the final chapter of the "Hollywood" series. It happens about 7 minutes into the recording. It also discusses the progress of amplification in 1921.
https://search.aol.com/aol/video?q=holl ... -searchbox
Online
User avatar

drednm

  • Posts: 6459
  • Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:41 pm
  • Location: Belgrade Lakes, ME

Re: DREAM STREET (1921)

PostThu Feb 16, 2017 2:43 pm

Yup I found the Griffith intro...... and copied at a faster speed, eliminating 30 minutes of running time.
Ed Lorusso
Writer/Historian
-------------
http://www.amazon.com/Edward-Lorusso/e/ ... 203&sr=8-1
Offline
User avatar

CJBx7

  • Posts: 124
  • Joined: Sun Dec 08, 2013 1:47 pm

Re: DREAM STREET (1921)

PostMon Mar 06, 2017 8:01 am

I tried to watch this one and I couldn't get past the first 40 minutes, it was so terrible. I usually like Carol Dempster but I found her kind of irritatingly broad here, often repeating actions and gestures more than necessary to make the point; and I couldn't stomach the gurning and grimacing of Ralph Graves and Charles Emmett Mack. There's one sequence where they just glare and grimace at each other and it's kind of unintentionally funny. Definitely a direction problem, though, since everybody overacts. What was Griffith thinking? It's like he forgot how to make movies on this one. Maybe we should just chalk it up as a failed experiment at something different.

Return to Talking About Silents

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Brooksie, drednm and 5 guests