THE SILENT TREATMENT: The Docks of New York

Only in the pre-code days could a prostitute and a ship coal-stoker find true love against the odds. Shockingly funny and playfully vulgar, this silent gem is gorgeously atmospheric. Von Sternberg could bend light to make anything beautiful, and here he glamorizes drunkard melees and so-called low lifes with the same mastery that would elevate Marlene Dietrich to superstardom. This prohibition-era treasure waxes nostalgic for the vibe of a rowdy drinking establishment, filled with herculean sailors who lift barrels of beer over their heads to drink. Wry, world-weary performances, delectable framing and dark humor light up the expressionistic night world and imbue the destitution, adultery and murder with an odd sense of mischievous fun.

Dir. Josef Von Sternberg, 1928, 35mm, 76 min.