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      An American Tragedy

      1931 1h 36m Drama List
      Reviews 54% Audience Score 250+ Ratings A social climber (Phillips Holmes) charms a debutante (Frances Dee), seduces a factory worker (Sylvia Sidney) and commits murder. Read More Read Less

      Audience Reviews

      View All (2) audience reviews
      Audience Member Based on the 1925 Theodore Dreiser novel of the same name, 'An American Tragedy' tells the tale of a young man (Phillips Holmes) who is nice enough on the surface, but is in reality slimy and weak. He's not a likeable figure, and despite an upbringing from virtuous parents, lacks a moral compass. He flees the scene of a fatal hit-and-run early on in the film, and then uses a young factory worker (Sylvia Sidney), getting her pregnant. He lies to her about marrying her while pursuing an affluent woman (Frances Dee). It's a love triangle where we clearly feel empathy and attraction for the two women, and dislike for the man. The film is strongest in the scenes with Sidney or Dee, both of whom are beautiful and turn in strong performances, perfectly tuned to their characters. Where the film falls down is in its last 30 minutes, where the trial is far too long and has few moments of real interest. It's meant to be riveting as the District Attorney (Irving Pichel) and defense attorney (Emmett Corrigan) raise their voices dramatically, but instead it's tedious and dated. One wonders if the trial scenes were elongated following a successful lawsuit brought by Dreiser, one which distressed Director Josef von Sternberg so much that he disowned the picture. It's certainly the weakest part of the film, which is a shame given Sidney and Dee's performances. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/13/23 Full Review Audience Member Sylvia Sidney gives a fine performance in Josef von Sternberg's adaptation of the Dreiser tale; unfortunately, the lead actor (Phillip Holmes) and a lengthy, slow-moving trial slow the film down considerably. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/27/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

      Movie Info

      Synopsis A social climber (Phillips Holmes) charms a debutante (Frances Dee), seduces a factory worker (Sylvia Sidney) and commits murder.
      Josef von Sternberg
      Production Co
      Paramount Pictures
      Original Language
      Release Date (DVD)
      Jul 13, 2015
      1h 36m