Behind the Scenes of the Movie The Crowd Part 1

About the film The Crowd, plot summary and behind the scenes of one of the greatest movies ever made.


THE CROWD (1928)

The Story: In this Everyman story, young John Simms comes to New York City to make his fortune. His head is filled with dreams of wealth and success. He soon discovers that he is but one of millions with similar dreams. He becomes an anonymous worker in a huge office building, indistinguishable from the countless others who work alongside him. He meets a girl; they marry, raise a family, have fights, deal with pesky in laws, and generally try to survive in an indifferent society. They have their share of tragedies; their daughter is killed in an accident, and John loses his job. He gradually turns bitter and depressed, but he cannot bring himself to commit suicide. He returns to his family and life goes on.

OR (alternate ending)

John is suddenly offered a wonderful new job, and he and his family enjoy a very happy Christmas.

The Story behind the Story: After the success of The Big Parade (1925), director King Vidor was approached by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer boss Irving Thalberg, who asked what his next project would be. Vidor mentioned that he was considering a story along the lines of his last film, wherein an individual is shown against the scope of the events of history. Only this time, the history would not be cataclysmic (W.W.I in The Big Parade); instead, a common man would be shown in his battles with everyday life. Vidor's title was originally One of the Mob (which Thalberg rejected), then One of the Crowd, and finally The Crowd.

Vidor went to great lengths to achieve the realistic effects he wanted for his film. Cameras were hidden in trucks to record scenes acted out on the streets of New York during a typically busy day. And, although the bathtub had become a common feature in films of the period. Vidor was the first American director to reveal that the same room often contained a toilet.

Shooting went on at a leisurely pace; Vidor, a respected director, was under no pressure to complete his film by specific date. Thalberg considered The Crowd one of his special "prestige projects" and gave Vidor free rein. The actors, however, were not so blessed; all contract players for MGM, they were assigned to roles in other films when they were not required for shooting on The Crowd. Production was halted completely at one point for a few weeks to allow leading lady Eleanor Boardman (Mrs. Vidor) to have a baby.

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