Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Elmer Rice's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Street Scene was purchased for the screen by producer Samuel Goldwyn in 1931. The entire story takes place on the street in front of a foreboding old New York brownstone, between one evening and the next afternoon. The individual fates of eight neighboring Manhattan families intertwine during this brief stretch of time. Special emphasis is given the Maurrant family: the philandering mother (Estelle Taylor), the drink-sodden husband (David Landau) and long-suffering daughter Rose (Sylvia Sidney). When the husband catches the wife "in the act" with bill-collector Russell Hopton, the resulting tragedy is not shown, but reflecting in the wildly varying reactions of neighbors and passersby. Though resisting the temptation to "open up" the play, director King Vidor nonetheless injects his cinematic know-how into the proceedings, by utilizing an entirely different camera setup or angle for each individual "take." The cast of Street Scene includes several carry-overs from the Broadway original, including David Landau, Max Montor, Matt McHugh (brother of Frank), John Qualen, George Humbert, Tom H. Manning, and Anna Konstant (Sidebar: Shirley Kaplan, the role played by Ms. Konstant, was portrayed in the London production of Street Scene by Greer Garson). Unavailable for TV for many years due to legal tangles, Street Scene was freed up for the small screen when it lapsed into public domain in the early 1980s.
urban, neighborhood, street, extramarital-affair, murder, shooting [crime]