Chorus girl Jill and composer Fred are happily married until he steps out on her with another woman. Tired of his ongoing alcoholism and heartbroken, Jill decides to leave him and live it up, though she must contend with the unwanted advances of a notorious gangster who will stop at nothing to make her his mistress. And when she considers taking Fred back, matters could get deadly fast. Written by
Before putting a pot of coffee on the stove, Jill uses a wooden match to light the burner, while never once looking at the match. She shakes the match to put it out, but it flares up again as she drops it on top of a cabinet next to the stove. She then puts the coffee pot on the burner and walks off camera to look out the window. See more »
New York Nights (1929) is no classic or even worth a repeat watching for the average movie-goer, but it does not deserve the toxic reputation it has amassed since its release.
I'm not a terribly big Norma Talmadge fan; she's a competent actress with a deep, powerful voice. For some reasons, rumors of her possessing a shrill Brooklyn accent have lingered for years, no doubt due to the claim that she was the basis for the unpleasant voice of Lina Lamont, the villainess of Singin' in the Rain, a movie which is not a terribly accurate depiction of the silent to sound transition to begin with, though many seem to believe so. Nonetheless, Talmadge is solid as the heartbroken chorus girl. The rest of the cast is fine. William Cameron Menzies's art direction is great and the cinematography is pretty good too. The plot is hokum, but it's entertaining while you're watching the picture.
I'd wager Talmadge's fall from grace was not caused by an inability to exist in sound, but by the cultural shift brought on by the Great Depression. Hard-nosed dames and working girls struggling to survive were more in vogue than the types Norma tended to essay during her 1910s/1920s heyday. Up and comers like Joan Crawford, possessing different images and fresh faces, held more appeal for audiences.
As the Buddhists say, times are always changing. Talmadge's day had passed on by. At least she retired a wealthy woman; as her sister Constance is said to have told her, the critics can't mess with those trust funds, honey!
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