East Side, West Side. 1927. USA. Directed by Allan Dwan. With George O’Brien, Virginia Valli, J. Farrell MacDonald. 90 min.
One of the last, and certainly among the best, of the major features shot at Fox’s New York studios at 55th Street and Tenth Avenue, Allan Dwan’s late silent was adapted from a bestselling novel by Felix Riesenberg. After losing his parents in an East River barge accident, young John Breen is raised by a Jewish family on the Lower East Side, growing up to become a celebrated prizefighter (George O’Brien). Though he becomes engaged to the ward of a Park Avenue millionaire, his true love remains his childhood sweetheart, Beka Lipvitch (Virginia Valli). A true New York City epic, driven by Dwan’s streamlined montage and a generous use of locations from the Bowery to Washington Heights. Gift of Twentieth Century-Fox. Preserved with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Film Foundation. Musical accompaniment by Joanna Seaton (voice) and Donald Sosin (piano).