The picture's only commercial value is the presence at the head of the cast of Greta Garbo. The role is a poor one of a rather furtive and bedraggled heroine which does not gain much sympathy.

The picture’s only commercial value is the presence at the head of the cast of Greta Garbo. The role is a poor one of a rather furtive and bedraggled heroine which does not gain much sympathy.

The picture has minor virtues and major defects. The principal drawback is that it’s fearfully long and dull, besides being hard to follow in its complications. The central idea is good. It deals with the middle class enmity in Europe toward the post-war social upstarts, rich war profiteers and dealers in the necessities of life who oppress the poor and become wealthy on hard-wrung profits. Probably the novel [by Hugo Bettauer] dealt more adequately with these materials.

The screen story gets them tangled up with shoddy melodrama in what one takes to be the red-light district of Vienna. The pure girl who is lured into the house of ill-fame doesn’t deliver much of a sensation here. Neither does the murder mystery. One solves the mystery immediately and there isn’t any suspense.

Some of the character types – the pompous butcher and the two fat, sleek profiteers among others – are excellent in portraiture, and the settings are generally interesting.

Photography is far from high grade. Often the quality is thin and sometimes blurred, the best effects being in the handling of heavy light and shade masses.

[Version reviewed was a toned-down 95-min. version released in the US in 1927.]

Die Freudlose Gasse

Germany

Production

Sofar. Director G.W. Pabst; Screenplay Willi Haas; Camera Guido Seeber, Kurt Oertel; Art Director Sohnie Erdmann, Otto Erdmann

Crew

Silent. (B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1925. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Asta Nielsen Greta Garbo Valeska Gert Werner Krauss Einar Hanson Karl Ettlinger
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