7.2/10
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44 user 19 critic

Manhattan Melodrama (1934)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 4 May 1934 (USA)
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) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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George Sidney ...
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Thomas E. Jackson ...
Richard Snow (as Thomas Jackson)
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Miss Adams (as Claudelle Kaye)
Frank Conroy ...
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Jimmy Butler ...
Jim as a Boy
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Blackie as a Boy
...
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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:

Not Rated | 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:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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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 having breakfast in bed, the phone on the nightstand rings, and Eleanor moves to answer it. It the next shot her hands are not in the same position, and she has to reach out again to answer the phone. See more »

Quotes

Eleanor Packer: [to the priest] It must be nice in jail, with you there.
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Connections

Referenced in The Real Untouchables (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Merrily We Roll Along
(uncredited)
Traditional
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User Reviews

 
Cutting no corners
13 July 2004 | by (Copenhagen, Denmark) – See all my reviews

'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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