Dream Street
Drama, Romance
IMDB rating:
D.W. Griffith
Edward Peil Sr. as Swan Way
Porter Strong as Samuel Jones
George Neville as Tom Chudder
Ralph Graves as James Spike McFadden
Tyrone Power Sr. as Street Preacher (as Tyrone Power)
William J. Ferguson as Gypsy's Father
Charles Emmett Mack as Billy McFadden
Carol Dempster as Gypsy Fair
Morgan Wallace as Masked Violinist
Charles Slattery as Police Inspector
Storyline: Three men in London compete for the love of a dance-hall girl.
Type DVD-rip
Resolution 640x480 px
File Size 729 Mb
Codec mpeg4
Bitrate 749 Kbps
Format avi
Type Resolution File Size Codec Bitrate Format
DVD-rip 640x480 px 729 Mb mpeg4 749 Kbps avi Download

Carol Dempster and Ralph Graves Star
Film takes place in London's Limehouse district and concerns a dancer (Carol Dempster), two brothers (Ralph Graves, Charles Emmett Mack), and assorted colorful characters who represent good and evil. Source material are stories by Thomas Burke, same author whose story gave us BROKEN BLOSSOMS and the Colleen Moore film TWINKLETOES, all of which have white girls "involved" with Chinese men.

Griffith seems to have filmed this one between WAY DOWN EAST and ORPHANS OF THE STORM and maybe there was overlap. Although it's hard to tell from such a draggy copy, the pacing of DREAM STREET seems erratic, the sets dreary, the acting uneven. But there are some brilliant moments. I don't dislike Dempster though a lot of people do. I think she was excellent in several other films. Here, the 20-year-old seems out of her depth, or maybe Griffith was directing her as if she were Mae Marsh or a Gish sister. Mack does far too much grimacing. Graves in many ways gives the best performance, one that seems to spin from stock character performance to brilliance.

Griffith must have considered this a major production and not just a filler between big projects. He filmed a talkie intro with himself and a couple of sound sequences (Graves singing and a dice game scene), which were only used in New York City theaters which were wired specifically for for the sound sequences. No other theaters saw/heard this innovation (six years before THE JAZZ SINGER).

Dempster's music hall sequence with dances seems extraneous. As the film winds to its climax, it's clear that the music hall could have been excised, tightening the plot and shortening the film.

The film does not rank with Griffith's several great films, but it's not the disaster that many seem to think it is. Dempster and Graves try hard and often succeed. This was Mack's first starring role in a feature film.

If you seek out this film, look for a copy that runs 100-110 minutes and avoid those that drag along to a 140minute running time.
Disappointing Griffith Feature
Dream Street (1921)

** (out of 4)

Typical love triangle has brothers (Charles Emmett Mack, Ralph Graves) falling in love with the same woman, Gypsy Fair (Carol Dempster) and soon their loving relationship starts to fall apart. Things take an even more dangerous turn when the evil Swan Way (Edward Peil Sr.) takes an interest in Gypsy. You can't help but watch this film and have BROKEN BLOSSOMS in the back of your mind since the stories from both films came from the same book. When this film was originally released it got mixed reviews with some calling it quite poor but others, like the Nation Board of Review, calling it one of the ten best films of the year. I'm going to have to fall on the negative side. I should mention that the film originally played with a sound introduction by Griffith as well as two other sound sequences but my copy didn't have any of this but I'm not sure how much that would have added to the film. With that said, the biggest problem is without question the acting which is pretty horrid. Most people hate Dempster with a passion but I think given the right role she could do nice work (see Griffith's THE SORROWS OF Satan) but this isn't that right role. She's all over the map here because at times she underplays scenes and then other times she's way too over the top. I also can't help but feel Griffith made her watch Gish's performance in that 1919 film and there's even a sequence here where the evil Chinese lord throws her into a closet and we get that "fear" sequence, which comes off incredibly bad even when you don't compare it to the masterful sequence by Gish. Mack doesn't fair any better as he too seems to be all over the place as is Graves. Tyrone Power, Sr. has a nice little part and Porter Strong, Griffith's blackface expert, has his typical comic relief part. Griffth's direction handles everything quite well but there's just no getting over the fact that the performances aren't very good and we're also missing G.W. Bitzer and this certainly takes away from the look of the film. Griffith fans will certainly want to check this one out just to complete their viewing pleasure but everyone else would be best to stay away.
Dempster Shines, But It Does Have Weak Points
Carol Dempster, as she did in The Love Flower (1920), shines once again. As Gypsy Fair in this movie, she has a sprite-like quality and she does that well. She also looks pretty in several different shots.


Charles Emmett Mack, that poor fellow who died at age 27 in 1927...is made to look...like a freak. I've seen him in other movies where he looked just fine, but in this one, I'm glad he made other movies before his demise.

Ralph Forbes is pretty much the star of this thing. He, however, is where more inconsistencies take place. I'll bet this was not his favorite movie. At times, he looks positively goofy! Those two reasons, among others, are why I'm only giving this movie a "6".

But, ah, Carol Dempster! She has been subject to criticism by an awful lot of people, but her sprite-like quality shines through. Perhaps that was her nice. I know in "Sally of the Sawdust" (1925)...she looks rather...slow.

In this movie, though, she proves she can dance and looks rather good in her costume.

One thing that personally disappointed me about the DVD this was on is that it lacked the sound introduction by D.W. Griffith. I was hopeful...

Getting to the movie itself, three other guys share my view about Gypsy Fair being a fair maiden. Forbes, Mack and a Chinaman.

While Dempster shines, she does something really, really STUPID in this movie. She turns the Chinaman in to the police and as he's being arraigned, she comes by, strikes a feminine pose and suggests to him that he not go after white girls.

I'm not even Chinese and that offended me! Also, how stupid she could be, letting that Chinaman (who was also a criminal) know she turned him in! Forbes makes a play for Gypsy Fair. She's not interested at first. He gets forceful and she resists, at first.

Mack? He's just as interested, but can't really be considered seriously because of his appearance.

Mack pulls a gun on his brother, Forbes, in the name of an oath that he swore he would kill anyone who touched Gypsy Fair (I guess, incorrectly). Forbes talks him out of it.

However, Mack does kill a rather ugly henchman of the Chinaman. I'll give Griffith credit in casting here. The guy who killed looked hideous! Not too long after Mack kills him, Forbes comes around and learns of Mack's deed. Because Mack is weak, he'll take the rap.

To make a long story short, Forbes is on trial in deep, dark serious trouble. At the last moment, Mack confesses and points out that the man he killed was attempting to rob him.

At the end, we see, Forbes and Fair have married and produced a young 'un. I'll give Griffith more credit here. That was a dang cute kid! It gets the "6" due to Dempster's performance. She really does shine though all the inconsistencies.
Dreaming of Carol Dempster
Carol Dempster (as Gypsy Fair) is a dancer, trying to support her elderly father in a seedy Limehouse-type district. The "King" of the streets is Ralph Graves (as James "Spike" McFadden); he has conquered males with his fists, and females with his voice (he's a singer). Charles Mack (as Billie McFadden) is his devoted little brother, an aspiring songwriter. The film's other denizens include Tyrone Power (Sr.) as "The Minister of Good Words" and Morgan Wallace as "The Evil Influence". Porter Strong (as Samuel Jones) and Edward Peil (as Sway Wan) reprise their obligatory "Blackface" and "Yellowface" roles.

Director D.W. Griffith mixes unsavory with the "love triangle" formed by his three leading players. If "Dream Street" had featured the creative input of G.W. Bitzer, Robert Harron, and/or Lillian Gish, the results might have looked better. Mr. Griffith's ominous spoken-word introduction is unfulfilled; while it has its moments, and Mr. Mack is good, "Dream Street" is a relative failure. Seek out superior Griffith directed films from 1918-20, usually starring Gish and Harron, for more dreamy films.

*** Dream Street (4/12/21) D.W. Griffith ~ Carol Dempster, Ralph Graves, Charles Emmett Mack
Broken Nightmare
Griffith returns to the Limehouse author of BROKEN BLOSSOMS to poor effect. Two years earlier we had Lilian Gish, Richard Barthelmess and Donald Crisp acting out a small melodramatic tragedy on sheer acting chops that, even today, through muddy prints, works beautifully. This time, however, we are confronted with Carol Dempster, Charles Emmett Mack and Ralph Graves -- and if you say "Who?" three times like an owl, this movie shows you the incredible loss of acting talent that Griffith had suffered. Confronted with three actors who couldn't act -- the scene where Dempster is terrified that Graves will rape her is clearly a gloss on Gish's terror in the closet of two years ago and so inferior that it seems sacrilegious to mention them in the same sentence -- Griffith directed them with a collection of affectations to try to make up for a lack of emotions, and tried to give the entire piece some direction using a framing device of Good Vs. Evil. The total effect is ludicrous.

There are some good scenes, but the three principals don't appear in any of them. Give this one a miss.
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