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Czechoslovakian immigrant Karel Novak fulfills his dream of coming to America only to learn at Ellis Island the entrance fee has been raised from $50 to $200. Unable to pay, he is put on a ship going back to Holland, but jumps off, swimming to Manhattan, and losing his wallet on shore. He is elated at what he sees, the skyscrapers, the automobiles and the opulence. While stealing doughnuts from a lunch table for girls rehearsing for a show, he befriends 19-year-old chorus girl, Sylvia Dennis, who then lets him sleep on the roof of her apartment building. Her young brother, Frank, gets him a job selling newspapers and he gradually works up into driving a cab. Meanwhile, romance blossoms, and when authorities threaten to send Frank to a young boys' home until Sylvia gets married, Karel proposes and Sylvia accepts. But the spectre of his illegal status causes him to see a lawyer about becoming a citizen. He unknowingly goes to shyster Halsey J. Pander, who turns him in for the money. Written by
Arthur Hausner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A sensitive and skillful performance by Francis Lederer makes this minor film enjoyable enough to sit through. He plays a Czech immigrant who escapes deportation back to his native land by jumping ship, ending up penniless but full of spirit on the bustling streets of New York City. Soon he encounters a kindly chorus girl (Ginger Rogers) who takes him home and with the help of her 11-year-old brother helps him find work. The dialogue is peppered with lines about the state of the economy in 1934, an understanding of how difficult it was to find a job and even wry commentary on New Deal federal policies (someone on the writing team had to have been a Republican). Otherwise, the impact thins as the plot thickens. We are supposed to believe, in line with the moral code of movies at that time, that Lederer willingly agrees to sleep on the roof of Rogers's apartment building for months, coming inside to the stairs only when it rains. Somehow the summery weather never seems to change even though a significant stretch of time evidently passes during which he rises from newspaper seller to taxi driver (even "scabbing" during a strike), sporting an ever-improving wardrobe, savings account and self-confidence. To top it all off, he is helped out of legal snags relating to his immigration status (and marriage to Rogers) by the convenient fact that Rogers just happens to be very good friends with a sweet Irish cop who has connections in the municipal power structure; call it corruption for good ends.
Lederer's progress through the streets of New York City is represented by crudely staged actions in front of rear projections. Interior scenes, however, are handled imaginatively and catch the eye. Ginger Rogers is only secondary here, but when you see how many films she cranked out during this period, you have to allow her some slack. Lederer gets top billing and deserves it.
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