The Docks of New York

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Year Released: 1928
Rating: 3.5

Steam-ship coal shoveller (George Bancroft), while on shore leave, saves the life of a deeply troubled blonde who plunges herself into the water - he then marries her more or less on a drunken whim. Essentially - and beautifully - suggests that two people with immense baggage - his body is damaged (his failed conquests are tattooed on his arm) while her soul and reputation are damaged - can find redemption in each other and that maybe - just maybe - love can save us. It isn't sappily romantic the way 'traditional' love stories can be - the two in question aren't sure how to show true affection towards each other (other than a lustful night), but willing to try: Bancroft's final swim back to the shore and straight to jail (to protect his new bride from thievery charges) is a touching, if oafish, gesture of care. Von Sternberg's sense of composition is, as always, outstanding.