An American Tragedy

Synopsis: Having just reached adulthood, Clyde Griffiths has always lamented his lot in life, he the only son of poor missionaries. He has gotten a peripheral view of society life, to which he aspires, in his work as a bellhop at an upscale hotel. If being truthful to himself, he would admit that he lacks moral strength, he often taking the easiest but perhaps not the most ethical path to protect himself. Forced to move from place to place out of circumstance, he ends up in Lycurgus, New York working at the Samuel Griffiths Collar and Shirt factory, Samuel Griffiths his paternal uncle. Not knowing his uncle or his family, Clyde only wants a chance to get ahead, not expecting anything else from his wealthy relations. After an apprenticeship, Clyde ends up as the foreman in the stamping department. Despite a company rule forbidding foremen to fraternize with staff, especially those working in the same department, Clyde begins an affair, a clandestine one out of necessity, with Roberta Alden, who w
Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance
Director(s): Josef von Sternberg
Production: Paramount Pictures
96 min


For Mrs. Adams, 310.

- Thank you.

Shall I put the bags in the bedroom?

- Yes, please.

Excuse me.

Is there anything else you want, madam?

- No, thank you. Wait a minute...

Marian, have you some change?

Say...thanks! If there's anything else

you want, call for me. I'm Number 7.

Number 7. I'll remember that.

What possessed you to give him so much?

I rather liked his looks.

- Marian! A bellboy?

Didn't you notice

what a fine face he had?

No, I noticed nothing of the kind.

I wonder how a boy of his type

comes to be doing this kind of work?

Sssss....ears burning!

Listening, eh? That's a nice trick

for a first-class bellhop!

You won't tell anyone, will you Katie?

Tommy's picking up the crown at 8.

He's going to swipe his old man's car.

I don't think I can make it tonight.

- Why not?

I don't feel like it.

- You don't, eh?

No, I don't.

- Hey, wait a minute...

I know what's the matter with you.

- Yeah?

You're getting high head all of a sudden

because that girl took a shine to you.

Don't kid yourself, Number 7!

You ain't got a chance with a classy

dame like that or anyone like her!

Well, I'm not going to be a

bellhop all my life.

Clyde, have a heart. You made a date

with me for tonight.

I've been looking forward to it

all week.

Come on, be a sport!

Step on it, boy! We're late!

- What do you think I'm doing?

Look out!

Get in before the cops get here!

What are you doing?

- I'm going away.

Why? Has anything happened?

We ran over a kid. Tommy was at

the wheel. He must have been drunk.

Was the child killed?

- I guess so.

Didn't you stay to find out?

- No, we beat it.

Clyde, you shouldn't have run away!

But they all ran away! I wasn't going

to stay and take all the blame!

Clyde, why did you go out with

girls and boys like that?

I didn't want to go out with them,

but they're the only friends I've got!

The police will get us all for this.

I've got to get away before they come.

Go to the police and tell them

it wasn't your fault.

Oh, no!

- I'll go with you.

They will put me in jail.

I'll get sent up for years.

Clyde, where are you going?

- I don't know.

What will you do?

You have no money.

I'll get along.

I'll drop you a line tomorrow.

Goodbye, mother.

Don't worry.

God, thou knowest how I love my boy!

I've done all I could to guide

his steps to thee.

But I've been weak and helpless.

We've always been so terribly poor.

We've never been able to give him

the happiness...

the simple joys and pleasures that

should come to every young boy.

All his life long...

his young eyes have seen

only misery and evil.

Even the very strongest

among us...

will stray from thy path without

happiness or contentment.

Bestow some of thy manifold

blessings upon him,

so that the light may fold into

his troubled spirit...

that he may be led aright.

Oh God, watch over my boy

all the days of his life...

and keep him...

Hey! Beat it before

I have you locked up!

Where do you think you're

working at, The Ritz?

Get going or I'll throw you out

on your ear!

Beat it, boys!

The cops!

Ever been a bellboy before?

Yes, sir.

Where? - In San Francisco,

the California Hotel.

Why did you quit?

- My folks moved to Chicago.

Folks moved to Chicago, eh?

- Yes, sir.

Tell the bell captain

I'm taking you on.

Thank you, sir.

I just took a guy named Griffiths

up to 417.

From some town in New York..Lya...


- That's it.

I've got some wealthy relations

in Lycurgus.

I wonder if it could be my uncle?

Here's a girl that might do for you.

Better give her a tryout.

Will you sit down?

What is your name?


Your address?

228 Tellis Street.

Is your home here?

No, I come from a farm upstate.

I'm staying here with a friend.

But you're going to live in Lycurgus

if you get work here?


I haven't lived in Lycurgus

so long myself.

Has Mr. Liggett told you about

the work here?

No, he hasn't.

It's piecework, you know.

Stamping collars.

I'll show you if you'll just

step over here.

Watch this girl.

Do you think you could do it?

It's quite easy.

Yes, I'm sure!

You can start after lunch if you want.

- If I may.

I'll show you where to put your things.

Miss Todd?

Miss Todd!

Will you let Miss Alden have a locker?

Well, I hope he doesn't think because

we asked him to dinner tonight...

that we're going

to take him up socially.

I don't suppose he thinks

anything of the kind.

Maybe not, but I can't help but think

that his real idea in coming here...

is that you would do more for him

than you would for someone else.

Just because he's your nephew!

Well, if he does, he's wrong.

He seems a nice chap.

- He was a bellboy, wasn't he?

Yes, he was working at a hotel in

Chicago when I met him.

But that's nothing against him.

In any case, it wouldn't look right

if we didn't invite him here at all.

Mr. Griffiths.

My nephew, I believe.

Yes, I'm Clyde Griffiths.

I'm very glad to see you and welcome

you to our home.

Thank you.

- Hello, Clyde.

Nice to see you here.

- Thank you, Mr. Griffiths.

And this is my daughter, Myra.

- How do you do?

How do you do?

Of course, you know my son.

Sorry I couldn't see you before...

but I've been away most of the time

since your arrival.

So they out you in charge of

the Stamping Dept., eh?

Yes, sir. I know I owe it all to you.

I've done nothing to deserve it.

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Samuel Hoffenstein

Samuel "Sam" Hoffenstein (October 8, 1890 - October 6, 1947) was a screenwriter and a musical composer. Born in Russia, he emigrated to the United States and began a career in New York City as a newspaper writer and in the entertainment business. In 1931 he moved to Los Angeles, where he lived for the rest of his life and where he wrote the scripts for over thirty movies. These movies included Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), The Miracle Man (1932), Phantom of the Opera (1943), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Tales of Manhattan (1942), Flesh and Fantasy (1943), Laura (1944), and Ernst Lubitsch's Cluny Brown (1946). In addition, Hoffenstein, along with Cole Porter and Kenneth Webb, helped compose the musical score for Gay Divorce (1933), the stage musical that became the film The Gay Divorcee (1934). He died in Los Angeles, California. A book of his verse, Pencil in the Air, was published three days after his death to critical acclaim. Another book of his work was published in 1928, titled Poems in Praise of Practically Nothing. The book contained some of his work that had been formerly published in the New York World, the New York Tribune, Vanity Fair, the D. A. C. News, and Snappy Stories. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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