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 <email@example.com>
Two men, one woman: A '30s melodrama with a great cast
Clark Gable and William Powell are boyhood friends who end up on opposite sides of the law in "Manhattan Melodrama," also starring Myrna Loy. Loy is lovely here, as usual, but she doesn't really have much of a role. The film focuses on Gable and Powell. In the first scenes of the film, we see that they are orphaned and taken in by a man who has lost his son in the same fire that killed the boys' friends and family.
When we see them in present day, Gable is running an illegal gambling joint, leaning on people for money they owe, and dating the Loy character. Powell is in politics. After Loy spends some time with Powell, she decides she'd rather be with him, and eventually they marry, and Powell moves from DA to governor. Gable becomes increasingly ruthless, though the two remain devoted friends.
There are some melodramatic sections in the film, particularly the beginning and the courtroom scene which contains a very dramatic speech delivered by Powell. The acting is marvelous. Gable is likable as a slick gangster who takes things in stride. His smile lights up the screen. He really had one of the great screen presences - looks, a great voice, and dripping with charm.
But the really interesting performance is given by Powell. He's not the witty, energetic Thin Man in this, but a very committed and serious, dignified person with a lot on his shoulders. He's totally believable, and he and Gable provide great contrast. Powell's scene at the end of the film is very touching.
Enjoy the great stars and the story, but don't look for laughs.
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