Joyless Street (German: Die freudlose Gasse, 1925, exhibited in the U.S. as The Street of Sorrow, in Britain as The Joyless Street), a film based on the novel by Hugo Bettauer and directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst in Germany, is one of the first films of the “New Objectivity“ movement. Greta Garbo stars in her second major role. The film is often described as a morality story in which the ‘fallen woman’ suffers for her sins, while the more virtuous is rewarded.
In 1921 in the poor part of an Austrian town called Melchiorgasse there are only two wealthy people: the butcher Josef Geiringer and his wife. Mrs. Greifer runs a fashion boutique and a nightclub patronized by wealthy Viennese. Annexed to the nightclub is Merkl Hotel, a brothel to which the women of the nightclub bring their clients. The film follows the lives of two women from the same poor neighborhood as they try to better themselves during the period of Austrian postwar hyperinflation. They are Marie, who becomes a prostitute, and Grete who does not.
At the finale Else kills the butcher because he will not give her meat. The poor of the neighborhood, hearing the sounds of the nightclub, revolt against the clients by throwing stones. The nightclub burns down killing two beggars. Only Grete seems to have any hope of leaving Melchiorgasse and this because of her relationship with an American Red Cross officer.