Certainly one of Vidor's best films, a silent masterpiece which turns a realistically caustic eye on the illusionism of the American dream. A young man ('born on America's 124th birthday') arrives in the big city convinced that he is going to set the world on fire, only to find that life isn't quite like that. A humble but steady job leads to love, marriage, kids and a happiness arbitrarily cut short by an accident (one of the children is run over and killed) which leads to the loss of his job, despairing unemployment, and impossible tensions starting to erode the marriage. The performances are absolutely flawless, and astonishing location work in the busy New York streets (including a giddy tour of Coney Island on a blind date) lends a gritty ring of truth to his intensely human odyssey, bounded by his eager arrival among the skyscrapers (the camera slowly panning up the side of a vast office block to discover him at work, lost in a sea of identical desks), and the last shot that has him merging as just another face in the crowd. Simple but superb.