The Crowd (1928) may very well be one of the first cinematic New York stories. It echoes the works of novelists F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Dos Passos. Stylistically, and from the naturalistic acting, The Crowd preceded the Italian Neo-Realism Movement, which would not come until about 1945. The tale is a simple one: A young married couple beset by tragedy caused by rotten luck, and arguments over money, as disillusionment overtakes optimism.
Director King Vidor frames some iconic shots: the couple's heady ride on top of an outdoor bus through Manhattan, when the city's possibilities felt teasingly close at hand; the upward tilt of a skyscraper, and the swoop into the vast office in which protagonist John (James Murray) works; and the long staircase where a young John looks up as his stricken father is carried to bed. Eleanor Boardman as John's loving wife rounds out the cast. The Crowd is a classic of the Silent Era.
This is the first silent film I ever saw, and it has a special place in my heart. I think it's beautifully made. It's interesting to see the couple's story continued (with different performers) in OUR DAILY BREAD.