Film details

Alternative titles

  • STREET OF SORROW Alternative
  • The JOYLESS STREET Alternative
  • La RUE SANS JOIE Alternative



Study of human suffering in post World War I Vienna, from the story by Hugo Bettauer, set in 1921. Shows the grinding poverty suffered by the inhabitants of Melchior Street, and the decline into starvation, despair, violence and prostitution by many. It also deals with the abuse of money and power amongst rich business men, and how creation of their wealth is often achieved at the expense of others. Greta, her father and sister struggle to survive. She loses her office job after spurning the advances of her lecherous employer, and her father loses all his money when the price of the shares which he bought with his redundancy money fall sharply when there are rumours of a strike at the mine. The rumours are false and have been circulated by a group of rich businessmen in order to buy up shares cheaply and make a profit. Prosperous Secretary Egon finds himself accused of the murder of a lawyer's wife with whom he had an affair, when she is found murdered at the Hotel in Melchior Street. He is accused by a former girlfriend, Marie, who saw him with the woman, and in a fit of jealousy and despair strangled her. Almost mad with guilt and remorse, and seriously ill, she confesses to the police. Greta's family take in a lodger, but the money disappears on paying her father's debts and the lodger, who liked Greta, subsequently leaves when her father is angered at accusations that his youngest daughter stole some tins of food. Desperate for money to feed the family Greta is lured to Fraulein Greifer's establishment, frequented by wealthy men and prostitutes, but she cannot bring herself to prostitute herself or appear in a semi-pornographic show. Whilst the show is going on inhabitants of the street gather outside and angrily stone Fraulein Greifer's. The young lodger who was at the show is at first angry with Greta, until he realises the truth of the situation and what led her to that position. A starving woman, desperate for food for her child and family begs from the villainous local butcher to whom she once prostituted herself for a piece of meat. He spurns her and she violently attacks and kills him with a meat cleaver. She sets on fire the attic room in which she and her child and husband live, but at the last moment the child is saved when the husband lowers it out of the window to the crowd below.

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