Street Scene comes upon the screen in faithful reproduction of the stage play. Author Elmer Rice went to Hollywood and had a supervisory hand in the filming and nearly a dozen of the characters are played by the same actors who appeared in the first New York production.
Principal setting is almost a reproduction of the stage locale, even to the scaffolding of the construction job adjoining the tenement house in the West 60s of New York.
Picture opens on a sequence of city life with the introduction of a crashing symphonic musical setting, rather in the Gershwin manner, symbolizing the breadth and scope of the subject.
Sylvia Sidney gives an even, persuasive performance in a role for which she is particularly fitted, typifying the tragedy of budding girlhood cramped by sordid surroundings. Even her lack of formal beauty intensifies the pathos of the character. Young William Collier Jr makes a splendid opposite to the heroine, playing his quieter scenes with true emphasis and rising to the swifter tempo with satisfying vigor.
In a purely acting sense the honors go to Beula Bondi, as the malicious scandalmonger of the tenement, playing the part she created on the stage, and playing it to the hilt.