Behind the Scenes of the Movie The Crowd Part 2

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


THE CROWD (1928)

Vidor saw The Crowd as a continuing story of life and could not decide on a proper ending, so he filmed eight different ones. Eventually two were approved, and both versions were sent to theaters; the theater manager was allowed to choose the one he thought his customers would find most satisfying. Vidor preferred the one that left the story open-ended; most people saw the other-a happy (but artificial) resolution.

Perhaps the most ironic and tragic of all behind-the-scenes stories is the tale of James Murray. Vidor insisted on casting his film without "name" stars, deciding instead to go with unknown actors chosen for their average, everyday appearance in order to encourage audience identification with them. One day, while having a discussion on the MGM lot, Vidor noticed a man who he thought fit the description of The Crowd's hero. He asked him his name and invited him to audition for the role the next day in his office.

The next day came and went, but the actor never showed up. Vidor remembered the man's name as "Something-or-other" Murray, however, and eventually located him with the help of the studio's "extra" book. James Murray tested for and got the lead in the film, and his performance was extraordinary. Vidor then gave him the lead in his next film, but again the actor failed to show up for the shooting. This time, however, he dropped from sight completely.

A few years later, while working on a project called Our Daily Bread, Vidor's thoughts again went to Murray for the lead role. But nobody knew what had become of him. Walking down Hollywood Boulevard one evening, Vidor was approached by a drunken panhandler; it was James Murray. Vidor took Murray into a nearby restaurant, bought him a good meal, and offered him the role in Our Daily Bread on the condition that the actor would get back into shape. Murray told the director what he could do with his movie and then disappeared again into the crowd. Vidor never saw him again. Some time later he heard that Murray had drowned while doing tricks for handouts in New York City. He had told his small audience that he was a movie star, just killing time until the film crew arrived.

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