An American Tragedy is the 1931 adaptation of the Theodore Dreiser novel, directed by Josef von Sternberg. Clyde is a destitute youth that has a mother who maintains a halfway house for the unfortunate, and finally fins work as a bell hop. From the very first he wants more; he's trying to break a date to see a ritzy dame who has taken a shine to him carrying her bags. Mother doesn't approve of his new friends though and after he's involved in a drunken driving accident he sets out for New York. Now Clyde has risen to foreman of the stamping department in his uncle's Samuel Griffiths collar and shirt factory, with the girls squeaking away on their stampers and flicking their hair as Clyde walks passed. Sylvia Sydney catches his eye and he pulls a sulk when she won't let him come to her room and further complications result from the complications in his life and their flirtations.