Sidewalks of New York (1931)
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Critic Reviews for Sidewalks of New York
Audience Reviews for Sidewalks of New York
Oddly enough, I found the most interesting part of this film to be Norman Phillips, Jr, the 14-year-old who plays the boy being used as a pawn by criminals pretty well. That's pretty damning, since it's got Buster Keaton and Anita Page in it. And of course, Keaton is the only real reason anyone would ever watch it, or at least should watch it. He plays an awkward, rich slumlord, which doesn't fit for several reasons, and while there are a couple of exceptions, doesn't get a chance to truly demonstrate his comedy or his humanity. The humor is too often geared towards mayhem, without enough subtlety, and the script is weak. The film has no focus, shifting from slapstick to romance to gangster to an old episode of The Little Rascals, and does none of them well. It's just not very appealing aesthetically, despite how hard we root for Keaton, or how much we admire his athleticism. If Keaton had directed and not been chafing under the yoke of Jules White, it certainly would have been tighter and funnier. It's stunning to me that this was Keaton's most commercially successful film, a fact that no doubt helped convince MGM that they knew best, when they didn't. Talk about sacrificing art for short-term profit.
An interesting but slightly dull Keaton movie.
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