Review: ‘Back Street’

Just as Fannie Hurst's bestseller must have fired the imagination of readers, this saga of Ray Schmidt who lives in a shadowy 'back street', and technically meretricious relationship with Walter Saxel, leaps off the screen and smacks the viewer above the gray matter and under the heart.

Just as Fannie Hurst’s bestseller must have fired the imagination of readers, this saga of Ray Schmidt who lives in a shadowy ‘back street’, and technically meretricious relationship with Walter Saxel, leaps off the screen and smacks the viewer above the gray matter and under the heart.

The sympathy for Schmidt is naturally, humanly and wallopingly developed, even unto Irene Dunne’s superb characterization winning her audience away from a slightly unconventional start where she is shown hob-nobbing gaily, but harmlessly, with the travelling salesmen in the Over-the-Rhine beer gardens of Cincinnati.

Her ready acquiescece to every demand of her lover (John Boles) despite his own imminent marriage, ‘for family reasons’, is as natural in its artlessness as having a cup of coffee, and yet it is packed with human interest.

Dunne is excellent as Schmidt. She is the personification of ‘a real woman’. Boles, too, is very effective, deftly highlighting the somewhat selfish man who makes heavy demands of his mistress, and yet withal genuinely in love with the No. 2 woman in his life.

Back Street

Production

Universal. Director John M. Stahl; Producer Carl Laemmle Jr.; Screenplay Gladys Lehman, Lynn Starling; Camera Karl Freund; Editor Milton Carruth; Art Director Charles D. Hall

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1932. Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Irene Dunne John Boles June Clyde George Meeker ZaSu Pitts Shirley Grey
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