Synopsis: Vienna-born, New York–raised Josef von Sternberg (Shanghai Express, Morocco) directed some of the most influential, extraordinarily stylish dramas ever to come out of Hollywood. Though best known for his star-making collaborations with Marlene Dietrich, Sternberg began his movie career during the final years of the silent era, dazzling audiences and critics with his films' dark visions and innovative cinematography. The titles in this collection, made on the cusp of the sound age, are three of Sternberg's greatest works, gritty evocations of gangster life (Underworld), the Russian Revolution (The Last Command), and working-class desperation (The Docks of New York) made into shadowy movie spectacle. Criterion is proud to present these long unavailable classics of American cinema, each with two musical scores.
UNDERWORLD (1927, 81 mins., b/w): Sternberg's riveting breakthrough is widely considered the film that launched the American gangster genre; it earned legendary scribe Ben Hecht a best original story Oscar the first year the awards were given.
THE LAST COMMAND (1928, 88 mins., b/w): Emil Jannings won the first best actor Academy Award for his performance as an exiled Russian military officer turned Hollywood actor, whose latest part—a czarist general—brings about his emotional downfall.
THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK (1928, 75 mins., b/w): A roughneck stoker falls hard for a wise and weary dance hall girl in this expressionistic portrait of lower-class waterfront folk, one of the most exquisitely crafted films of its era.
Country of Origin: United States of America
Production Year: 1928
- "Josef von Sternberg is in the highest pantheon of twentieth-century art.", Tag Gallagher
- "A masterpiece... Expertly poised between satire and ‘absurd’ melodrama. (The Last Command)", Geoff Andrew
- "Packed with such naked sexual energy and longing that it makes most films currently in release look banal by comparison. (The Docks of New York)", Time Out New York
- "Classic... One of silent cinema’s essential films. (Underworld)", George Kaltsounakis, Cinematheque Ontario
- 1927: Winner, Oscar, Best Screenplay, Academy
- 1927: Winner, Oscar, Best Actor, Emil Jannings, Academy