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Friday, August 5, 2022
Playwright Elmer Rice adapted his own Pulitzer Prize-winning 1929 play for the screen with this single-location drama, only Vidor’s fourth talkie. Set across 24 hours and confined almost exclusively to a single New York City block, Street Scene follows a small network of the block’s residents—including Sylvia Sidney, Estelle Taylor, and Beulah Bondi, making her film debut by reprising her role from the stage version—as they go about their everyday lives amid a heatwave while the Great Depression looms forebodingly on the horizon. Though adapted from a work of theater, Street Scene nevertheless finds Vidor exploring the new narrative possibilities of recorded sound to conjure a richly empathetic and fundamentally human world of characters whose lives will soon be shaped by the economic crisis that will define the decade to come. Print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.