Josef von Sternberg

The Docks of New York

The Docks of New York

Roughneck stoker Bill Roberts (George Bancroft) gets into all sorts of trouble during a brief shore leave when he falls hard for Mae (Betty Compson), a wise and weary dance-hall girl, in Josef von Sternberg’s evocative portrait of working-class waterfront folk. Fog-enshrouded cinematography by Harold Rosson (The Wizard of Oz), expressionist set design by Hans Dreier (Sunset Boulevard), and sensual performances by Bancroft and Compson make this one of the legendary director’s finest works, and one of the most exquisitely crafted films of the era.

Film Info

  • United States
  • 1928
  • 75 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.33:1
  • Silent
  • Spine #531

Available In

Collector's Set

3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg

3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg

Blu-ray Box Set

3 Discs


The Docks of New York
George Bancroft
The Stoker
Clyde Cook
His pal
Betty Compson
A girl
Mitchell Lewis
The third engineer
Olga Baclanova
His wife
Gustav von Seyffertitz
Hymn-book Harry
Josef von Sternberg
Photographed by
Harold Rosson
Story and screenplay by
Jules Furthman
Suggested by
John Monk Saunders's "The Dock Walloper"
Titles by
Julian Johnson
Edited by
Helen Lewis


The Docks of New York: On the Waterfront
The Docks of New York: On the Waterfront
T he Docks of New York is one of those orphaned silents, released in 1928, the very end of the era. Apparently, it was previewed the same week as Al Jolson’s The Singing Fool, his first “all-talking” picture, the follow-up to The Jazz Si…

By Lucy Sante

On the Waterfront

Dark Passages

On the Waterfront

Pessimism, melancholy, and corruption come in with the tide in the greatest seaside noirs, including classics by Josef von Sternberg, Ingmar Bergman, and Marcel Carné.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Miguel Arteta’s Top 10
Miguel Arteta’s Top 10

Miguel Arteta has directed the films Star Maps, Chuck & Buck, The Good Girl, Youth in Revolt, and Cedar Rapids.

Mit Out Sound, Mit Out Solution
Mit Out Sound, Mit Out Solution
The Docks of New York

By Guy Maddin


Hans Dreier

Art Director

Hans Dreier

One of the most prolific film artists in Hollywood history, the German-born art director Hans Dreier worked on more than five hundred films from 1919 to 1951, amassing twenty-three Academy Award nominations and three Oscars. A student of engineering and architecture, Dreier began his career as an architect for the German government before being hired to design sets for UFA, the home of the German film industry, during the silent era. Like many of his moviemaking countrymen, Dreier eventually moved to Los Angeles, bringing with him all the expressionist tools of his trade—dramatically exaggerated spaces and chiaroscuro—and working closely with cinematographers like Victor Milner and such directors as Josef von Sternberg and Ernst Lubitsch to create vivid visual experiences. Dreier’s astonishingly vast and varied body of work extends from the intense, romantic shadows of early von Sternberg to the psychological grit of Anthony Mann’s American West, with many lighthearted pit stops in between, from Lubitsch's Ruritanian comic-musical landscapes to Preston Sturges’ just-off-center, whacked-out Americana.