Orphans Edward "Blackie" Gallagher and Jim Wade are lifelong friends who take different paths in life. Blackie thrives on gambling and grows up to be a hard-nosed racketeer. Bookworm Wade becomes a D.A. vying for the Governorship. When Blackie's girlfriend Eleanor leaves him and marries the more down to earth Wade, Blackie harbors no resentment. In fact, their friendship is so strong that Blackie murders an attorney threatening to derail Wade's bid to become Governor. The morally straight Wade's last job as D.A. is to convict his friend of the murder, and send him to the electric chair. After he becomes Governor, Wade has the authority to commute Blackie's death sentence-- a decision that pits his high moral ethics against a lifelong friendship. Written by
Gary Jackson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This was the movie that bank robber John Dillinger had just seen before he was gunned down in front of Chicago's Biograph Theater on July 22, 1934. He had been set up by Anna Sage, the madam of a brothel, who knew Dillinger's girlfriend, Polly Hamilton. Sage was facing deportation and thought the tip might get her off. She told FBI agent Melvin Purvis that she would be wearing orange which appeared red, leading her to be dubbed "The Woman in Red". Dillinger was shot three times when he tried to escape, and Sage wound up being sent back to Romania. See more »
In the close up of the newspaper announcing Jim as the new D.A., in the upper right corner, the newspaper is being sold for "Five Cens". See more »
'Manhattan Melodrama' may not have the stylistic finish to it to make it a great message movie about contemporary 30s issues, but it does go a long way towards that end, and is never less than engaging.
Clark Gable is the happy-go-lucky gangster Blackie who is being tried for murder by his boyhood best friend Jim, William Powell, a D.A. who has made it to governor of New York because of a murder done by Blackie, unbeknownst to Jim. On top of it all they both love the same woman, Myrna Loy.
Despite its melodramatic but never overwrought style 'Manhattan Melodrama' has sufficient weight and substance to make itself heard 70 years after the fact. It cuts no convenient corners in the description of the governor's sad plight of having to decide whether his friend should live or die, and it paints a wonderful and believable picture of Loy's character who does what she deems best. Powell delivers a multi-layered performance that has to count amongst his best, and Gable is irrepressible and delightfully amoral as the bad guy we're all rooting for.
Recommended, but please don't judge it by the first 20 minutes which are rather slow-moving, but still entertaining.
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