MD reference in "City Streets" (1931)

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MD reference in "City Streets" (1931)

Postby Cowboy » 25 Oct 2010

This thread is to discuss and share information around City Streets (1931) as a film reference/connection within Muholland Dr.

City Streets is a story about The Kid (Gary Cooper) - a cowboy hat wearing worker at a carnival. His girlfriend (Nan) takes the fall for her gangster of a father. The Kid comes into the mobster's business in hopes that it will help Nan. Once Nan gets out of jail, she is distressed to find that he is dealing with the mobsters that did nothing for her other than let her take the fall for them. The key setup is that the kingpin's girlfriend murders the mobster (known as The Big Fellow) . She sets up Nan to take the fall for the murder.

A tense showdown of sorts occurs with the key mobsters are present when The Kid i(Gary Cooper) ntimidates and stares them all down and takes control of the mob/gang and the situation. The other mobsters push The Kid to have his girlfriend killed by 'taking her for a ride' so to speak and then bumped off.

The dialog goes as follows:

Mobster: "Don't bother Big Fella (said sarcastically drawing reference to The Kid taking The Big Fellow's role in the gang). We'll handle this. We'll take her for a buggy ride."

The Kid: "I'm running this show. And I'm driving that buggy."

To see that The Kid follows through on killing Nan - three of the mobsters pile into the back of The Kid's fancy big car with The Kid driving and Nan in the front passenger seat.

Naturally, The Kid has his back to the mobsters so they have the advantage. He turns that advantage by going at full speed around dangerous turns where the mobsters don't dare kill him for fear of the car falling off the side of the road or crashing. Nan takes The Kid's gun and turns it on the mobsters forcing them to walk home.

It would be really neat to know if the studio used Mulholland Dr. for the car scene, but that would take someone intimate with the road to be able to decipher that one. It's quite possible.

As a reminder, this is the relevant dialog from MD.

The Cowboy: "There's sometime a buggy. How many drivers does a buggy have?"

Adam: "One."

The Cowboy: "So let's just say that I'm driving this buggy. And if you can fix your attitude you can ride along with me."

Both films involve mobsters trying to gain control (around a girl) by imposing their will over the will of others. The Kid even dresses down one of the other mobsters in front of the group successfully. We also have the buggy ride dialog and guys going for a ride with The Cowboy. Certainly Gary Cooper is one of the ultimate cowboys but it's more than that. He wears a cowboy hat earlier in the film and shows off his gun skills while running a gun target game at the local carnival.

Another key reference is the two in the front with one turning around and pointing a gun toward the guys in the rear seat and ordering them out of the car where they are made to walk back into town. The action of the gun pointing around a car speeding around big turns on a Mulholland Dr. type road. And after all, isn't that what happens to Rita?

It would be great to know if they actually used Mulholland Dr (the road) for the filming of these scenes but that's just a nice idea with nothing to back it up - other than the observation that old Hollywood movies weren't big on location shots - so when they needed street scenes they would make good use of the local roads.
Well, stop for a little second and think about it. Can you do that for me?

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Re: MD reference in "City Streets" (1931)

Postby Bob » 25 Oct 2010

I believe the initial poster mentioning the Cowboy speech connection in City Strees was from IMDB. Certainly it needed confirmation and though it was on my to do list for a long time I finally got the chance to get my hands around a copy. Apparently, there's a (much better rated) movie called City Lights also from 1931. So please, don't you do the same mistake of getting the wrong movie. :Uups:

Well, having sorted that and having watched the movie, I can honestly say I would never in my life have picked up on that vage connection myself. It'll only makes sense if you think about it for a moment and also take the following scenes into account. It's hard to say if Mulholland Dr. is the road they are going on (it definitelly is somewhere about the hills of Los Angeles), but they do speed-racing (like the young couples in MD) and then the girl turns around in the car with a gun in her hand, much like in the set-up for Rita.



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Re: MD reference in "City Streets" (1931)

Postby Film Syncs » 27 Oct 2010

Cowboy was kind enough to pass me City Streets as this IS a rarely shown hard-to-find film that (to the best of my knowledge) was never officially released to video. I uploaded the last 10 minutes or so of the film. Unfortunately, it is from a TV source with untold number of generations from the negative - so the image quality is a bit tough to watch. I included enough of the film to get a sense of the storyline with the key points coming 4+ minutes into the clip. I didn't want to include more as to protect the owners of the copyright (even if they may have forgotten about this film). Video from :

Certainly the idea of The Kid (who starts the movie wearing a cowboy hat) staring down and intimidating the other mobsters influences the corral scene with "I'm running this show and I'm driving that buggy" sealing the deal. But the scene along a long and curvy road (with the city in the distance) where a gun is pointed at the rear passengers ordering them out of the car is a winner too.

Nice going to our unknown mystery poster (IMDB?) on this. I would venture a guess that even the most seasoned MD fan would have miss the references even if they stumbled on to the film. I know I would have. Lynch isn't easy, but City Streets is one of the best finds from the community at large.

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