Docks of New York (1928) dir. Josef von Sterberg

The Docks of New York

Mae is despondent after spending life as a prostitute, and decides to drown herself.  The burly steamship stoker Bill saves her life instead.  They go out drinking (the film is set in the past, when pubs were legal) and get married by a minister.

The Docks of New York

The director shines lights on their faces to tell us they are in love.  This marriage is more than just "a good time" - even if neither character is ready to fully trust in that yet.

The Docks of New York

But, the sea calls, and Bill must leave his bride behind.  Can love shine through the fog and the squalor of poverty on the docks?

The plot is paper-thin, but the story is timeless -- and the light is one of the best examples of Hollywood romance there ever was.