In the play all the action took place in one set, the sidewalk and facade of a New York lower-middle-class apartment dwelling. I quickly realized that it would be a mistake to tamper with the simple form and mood of the play and try to transpose any of the action or scenes to the interior of the house or to any other interior settings. At the same time I feared the static, immobile quality of that one stoop and that one section of sidewalk would offer little opportunity for movement. The result might prove monotonous ... Then I happened to see a man asleep on a grass plot near my home. On his face was a lone fly. The thought struck me: To a fly, a man's face is a place of unlimited interest. To a fly, a face has hills, mountains, tunnels, valley, and plains ... Why not look upon the front of the old tenement as the fly looks at the man's face? Let the camera be the fly. In Street Scene we would never repeat a camera setup twice. If the setting couldn't change, the camera could.
Vidor, King. A Tree Is a Tree. Hollywood: Samuel French, 1953, 1981: 202-03.
Below, from the Florence Times-News of Alabama, July 3, 1931.
Dames F says
Thank you, this is a great example of both the work of Sylvia Sydney & King Vidor. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Cliff Aliperti says
Thanks @Dames F – I love this movie for Sylvia (big fan!), but I’m reading Vidor’s book right now I really enjoyed how succinctly he put what his methods and ideas into words.