After having been swindled out of all their money by a crooked business manager, formerly wealthy socialites Jerry and Carol discover that they owe their chauffeur and maid back wages they ...
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After having been swindled out of all their money by a crooked business manager, formerly wealthy socialites Jerry and Carol discover that they owe their chauffeur and maid back wages they are unable to pay. They're forced to let their former employees live in their luxury apartment in lieu of paying the money they owe them. Written by
This was the movie that had Cornell Woolrich fleeing Hollywood, never to return. He had written a novel, "I Love You Paris", which he had then put into the garbage, so when "Bolero" came along in 1934, giving him no story credit, he had no way of backing up his claim that the plot had been stolen from his junked novel. So imagine his frustration when the same year another film was released allegedly based on his very noirish "Manhattan Love Song" but having no resemblance to his story!! His book was almost a dry run for "The Black Angel" and if Warners had bought it they may have recreated the nightmare world of the original novel but in Monogram's hands it became a romantic comedy (if you can believe it) of two wealthy sisters who on the loss of all their money turn over their mansion and their services to their own servants in lieu of back wages!!
A few firsts - Robert Armstrong as the chauffeur, Tom Williams, carries the whole movie (of course it can be argued Armstrong has had to do that before) and Franklin Pangborn actually gets married!! - to one of the sisters Carol (Helen Flint who played the floozie in "Black Legion"(1937)). Williams, along with the maid, Netta (Nydia Westman) has been given the run of the Stewart sister's apartment because of unpaid wages and while he is at the labour exchange, he is mistakenly hired by a wealthy Western woman, Pancake Annie (Cecil Cunningham): she offers him $1,000 if he can introduce her and her socially aware son to the cream of society!! With a few remarks from Wilson about Gerry's needing to get down from her ivory tower and meet a few real people (Dixie Lee's accent doesn't sound as if it came from any finishing school, she sounds as though she has already met a few "ordinary joes"!!), the story could have gone down the "let's go down to the breadlines and see how the ordinary people are faring" route etc, but it was too eager to advance the plot line where Gerry tries out for the chorus line, finds that it is really a burlesque troop but decides to have a go anyway!! Her initial introduction singing the title song and performing a "fan" dance in Pangborn's shop window was, I think, just a gimmick to show off Dixie's obvious strengths as a singer.
There is a humorous running gag where Gerry, dressed as a maid, is speaking "pig Latin" to convey to Carol that the electricity has been disconnected. Carol is entertaining Pancake Annie who, you just know, sees through their dilemma instantly and is not taken in by the real maid's impersonation of a visiting society lady.
Woolrich just loved the movies and frequently went to his local cinema. Who knows but these two bad experiences may have paved the way for his future writings. By 1935 he had given up romantic fiction and was writing almost exclusively for the crime pulps where he was perfecting the surprise ending so beloved by Hitchcock.
It was also lovely to see gorgeous Dixie Lee - I'll watch her in anything!! I know she was married to Bing Crosby and was busy with her growing family but when she was a starlet with Fox back in the early musical days her talent should have been fostered. Variety wrote of "Manhattan Love Song" "both Dixie Lee and Helen Flint show potential, both of whom can go places, if properly handled". Not only did she have a bluesy style voice but she helped Bing to develop his distinctive singing style.
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