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Manhattan Melodrama (1934)

Passed  |   |  Crime, Drama, Romance  |  4 May 1934 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 2,291 users  
Reviews: 34 user | 19 critic

The friendship between two orphans endures even though they grow up on opposite sides of the law and fall in love with the same woman.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(screen play), (screen play), 3 more credits »
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Title: Manhattan Melodrama (1934)

Manhattan Melodrama (1934) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Leo Carrillo ...
...
George Sidney ...
...
Muriel Evans ...
Thomas E. Jackson ...
Richard Snow (as Thomas Jackson)
Isabelle Keith ...
Miss Adams (as Claudelle Kaye)
Frank Conroy ...
Noel Madison ...
Jimmy Butler ...
Jim as a Boy
...
Blackie as a Boy
Shirley Ross ...
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Storyline

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 <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 May 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El enemigo público número 1  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is probably the only major film to offer a fairly accurate re-creation of the General Slocum disaster. The popular excursion steamer caught fire in New York's East River on the morning of June 15, 1904, while transporting passengers to a picnic organized by St. Mark's Evangelical German Lutheran Church (Lower East Side, Manhattan). At an estimated 1,021 fatalities, mostly women and children, this was New York City's single worst tragedy, in terms of lives lost, before 9/11. An incompetent, inexperienced crew was held primarily to blame for the tragedy. See more »

Goofs

When Blackie picks up a magazine from the couch after Eleanor leaves him, it is a close up of a Ladies Home Journal from a leopard skin upholstered couch. In the wide shot, he is holding a Vogue and the couch is plainly upholstered, not leopard skin. See more »

Quotes

James W. 'Jim' Wade: I'm going to clean out every rotten spot I can find in this city, and, Blackie, I don't want to find you in any of them!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

Sidewalks of New York
(1894) (uncredited)
Music by Charles Lawlor
Lyrics by James W. Blake
Played aboard the steamboat and danced by the patrons
See more »

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User Reviews

A fascinatingly unusual drama
21 March 2001 | by (Syracuse, NY) – See all my reviews

Well, unusual for me. Perhaps at the time, the circumstances, what have you, it was not so unusual. But for me, watching Clark Gable portray a happy-go-lucky double murderer, who garners tons of sympathy from the audience; it was a first.

Manhattan Melodrama is a film of dubious and rather interesting morals. Who's the hero? Who's the villain? Childhood friends Jim and Blackie grow up very different men, Jim becomes DA of New York City, while Blackie runs a casino, and performs other unsavory activities. Eventually, their positions force them into conflict, but it's not your typical run-of-the-mill courtroom drama.

Blackie in most films would be a villain, he is after all a gangster and a murderer, amongst other activities. But here he's played by Clark Gable, about as charming an actor as ever lived, and the movie takes place in the 1930s, when gangster pictures like Little Caesar elevated these types of men into hero roles.

The picture makes a very blatant message against the heroic vision of gangsters (In a speech by Jim that feels as if the men who controlled the Production Code were standing off screen holding the cue cards for him). But I couldn't help feeling sympathy for the character, after the evil deeds he did. Meanwhile Jim, a hardworking individual who is uncorruptable, comes off as "cold" by the end of the picture. The way this movie sidesteps conventional roles is really interesting.

The lead woman in the picture, Eleanor, is rather interesting too. Watch how she jumps back and forth and between the men, and for what reasons.

I don't fully understand this movie, and it's not one of the most exciting films I've ever seen, but it's one of the most interesting ones I've seen in quite a while.


25 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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