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Henry Morgan (the lead) was a radio comedian in the 30s. He had a daily
show on which he did a monologue of his own whimsical and sardonic
observations--better than most stand up comedians. I remember a
"weather report" in which he predicted "snow, followed by little boys
He made very few films. In this one, he is a salesman in a two-employee cigar store in Indianapolis, bullied by the owner who is always complaining that business has never been so bad. Henry's wife has just inherited some money and has decided to use it to move to New York City (at least temporarily) and "make a big splash" so that her younger sister can marry a rich man more suitable than her present beau who is a small-town butcher's helper. Henry is certain no good will come of this so he accompanies them on the train, making his trademark sarcastic wisecracks and keeping a record to the penny (without being requested) of everything they spend. Arriving at the station in New York, they ask a cab driver to take them to a hotel. He replies sullenly, semi-literately, in a heavy New York accent, something like "Where duh yuh wanna go?". A subtitle appears, "Where may I take you, sir?"
The direction is altogether superb. There is a device used that I have never seen used that way again. Today, on TV, it would be called a freeze frame, but the way it is used makes all the difference. It brings out, and emphasizes, character and prepares the audience for the action to follow. For example, in the dining car on the train, a con man (the audience knows this because he looks exactly like a movie con man of the 30s-- sort of good looking, dandyish dress, pencil mustache, slicked-back greasy hair, big- city villainous, elaborate speech, yet a blow hard) tries to pick up the younger sister. The foolish wife is immediately deceived (though not Henry). As the scene is playing, one particular frame is frozen; one that shows him at his absolute worst, artificial, phony, slimy. It propels the action forward. It is completely different from the meaningless modern TV freeze of the last frame in a scene. (Though I'll bet they all copied it from this movie.)
It is cynical, sophisticated comedy, though completely accessible. Not to be missed.
I first saw So This Is New York in my teens on the Million Dollar Movie hosted by Ted Steel on WOR TV New York in the early 50's. I loved this film. At that time the Million Dollar Movie would show the same movie every night for a week. I watched every night! It is a wonderful satire on several levels; including marrying for money, small town folk going to the "big city", ham actors, show business, gamblers and infidelity war profiteering. The cast was wonderful. The writing is top notch with some great lines that sound even better because of the wonderful Henry Morgan. He was the perfect actor to play the part of the beleaguered husband. I hope this comes out on DVD.
Filmed in B&W. I saw this movie while I was still in my teens in 1948. It remains in my memory as one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. It used some clever techniques for the time, such as "stop action" with voice-over commentary. The movie chronicles the mis-adventures of a man who is dragged to NY, unwillingly, by his wife and her sister, who have delusions of grandeur. It is set in the late 1920s or early 1930s. They are taken advantage of by three broadly-drawn characters, played by Jerome Cowan (a con man), Leo Gorcey (a jockey), and Rudy Vallee (a rich, but flawed, man). I laugh again just thinking about it. I don't know that it has ever been shown on television, but it should be.
A funny funny film! Definitely a "missing" gem. The play performed within the film ("Bridget Sees a Ghost") makes "Springtime for Hitler" look like Shakespeare! Morgan's voice overs are marvelous and the use of Rossini's "Barber of Seville Overture" to punctuate the closing moments of each act is masterful. Clever and innovative in its photography with outstanding performances by Henry Morgan and Leo Gorcey. The rest of the cast certainly holds its own in this lunatic story about a family's visit to New York City. This should definitely be released on DVD. It was shown on television years ago, but seems to have vanished from the airwaves. Definitely worth watching - if it ever reappears.
one of my favorite films, first seen when i was twelve, in 1948. in my opinion, it was the signature film of all those in it...henry morgan, leo gorcey, rudy vallee, bill goodwin, dona drake, virginia grey, jerome cowan. i'm tempted to say that goodwin's jimmy ralston character was the best; but then, all the performances were so great. i spotted it on tv some ten years ago, on a weak station and taped it. so, bad copy and all, i do watch it a few times a year.
When I accidentally discovered that Leo Gorcey was one of the players in this movie on the Blu-ray box, I had to seek this one out. I've been watching lots of movies made in the '40s in chronological order recently so it was a nice surprise to also find out Bill Goodwin, Hugh Herbert, Rudy Vallee, and Jerome Cowan are also in this one. Anyway, radio comedian Henry Morgan plays the husband of Virginia Grey whose sister Dona Drake is single and since they've just inherited some money, they all go to New York to experience the high life though Morgan does so reluctantly. There are many cynically funny lines and the characters played by many of the players I mentioned bring great atmosphere to the proceedings. Henry Morgan, himself, may not have been much of an actor but he's surrounded by some of the best here like Arnold Stang-who often worked with him on radio-doing a hilarious take on a Western Union clerk. So on that note, I highly recommend So This Is New York. P.S. Since I like to cite when people associated with my favorite movie-It's a Wonderful Life-is involved in something else I review here, I have to note that the score here is done by Dimitri Tiomkin who was also involved in IAWL. As an aside, I also should note the use of a freeze-frame when a voice-over is heard being as effective here as in that Frank Capra masterpiece. Also, Dick Elliot, who said in that film "Youth is wasted on the wrong people!" after asking James Stewart why he doesn't kiss Donna Reed instead of talking her to death, plays a very funny heckler here when viewing a play starring Ms. Drake and Goodwin. Oh, and it's funny to me when the Goodwin character mentions giving jokes to Al Jolson (the film takes place just after World War I ended) since he was just in The Jolson Story a year or two previous.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A radio comic by the name of Henry Morgan (no relation to the actor who
changed his name to Harry and became famous on "MASH") is the
commentator in regards to his wife and sister-in-law's desire to move
to New York City after a bequest from a relative gives them a small
fortune. Of course, his boss expects him to Grand Rapids, but
circumstances keep them there, mostly because wife and sister-in-law
(Virginia Grey and Dona Drake) are intent on staying there and pretty
much dilapidate Morgan's family bequest. A whole slew of not so
stereotypical New York archetypes come in and out of their lives,
including aging playboy Hugh Herbert, drunken actor Bill Goodwin,
wealthy cowboy visitor Rudy Vallee and jockey Leo Gorcey, and at one
point, subtitles appear so the audience can understand what a cabdriver
There are cities, and then there are CITIES, and while pretty good sized, Grand Rapids (especially during the days of Post World War I) ain't no New York. There have been tons of movies about out-of-towners coming to New York to try and make it big, and with "So This is New York", there's a bit of tongue-in-cheek with its innocent hero. Morgan realizes quietly that he's never going to win with the two women in his life manipulating the purse strings, so when he deceives them by putting a bet on a guaranteed loser of a horse (and wins!), he keeps it all secret. Then, Drake manages to get a role in an extremely bad Broadway play (where comical character actor Dick Elliott steals the scene as a heckler), and this brings everything to a head. Like Roz Russell's appearance in a minor role in a pre-Broadway tryout of a play in "Auntie Mame", this on-stage disaster is a comic masterpiece of what can go wrong will go wrong.
A few movies of the late 1940's seemed to take a different way of looking at life with an irreverent sense of comedy. "It's a Joke, Son" and "The Sins of Harold Diddlebock" focused on the master timing of comics in small roles to give a more slice of life, and released the following year after those two, "So This is New York" completes the trio of interesting, quite different movies. Arnold Stang is very funny as a telegraph operator who can't understand why Morgan won't add words to his one-word telegraph, while the very serious William Bakewell makes a very serious hotel clerk almost comic in his willingness to have his palm greased after barking that there are no rooms available. Hugh Herbert's buffoon like over the hill playboy, Rudy Vallee's almost lecherous simple Texan, and Gorcey's tough jockey all add more laughs, and in a cameo in the last moments of the film, Will Wright gives the movie a very funny send-off. Made independently by the not yet well known Stanley Kramer, but released by MGM, this is one of those forgotten comedy classics that deserves re-discovery.
This movie really was not a success, but give the studio credit for
throwing a lot of talent at it. The movie was, if we are to believe
IMDb, Stanley Kramer's first production. He and writer Carl Foreman
collaborated on two more movies in the next three years: Champion, and
High Noon. Kramer went on to produce many thoughtful movies (too many
to list here) and Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Director Richard Fleischer
also had a long career after So This Is New York, up to and including
Conan the Barbarian.
Morgan had a reputation of, for a comedian, being an intellectual. He wrote for and became friends with Fred Allen. When his success on radio brought him to Hollywood's attention, his fellow New Yorker, Stanley Kramer, and he came up with a Ring Lardner tale called the Big Town. The choice was almost inevitable: Lardner's cynicism outmatched Morgan's. With Morgan being little known outside New York, they loaded the cast with familiar faces, not necessarily big stars, but familiar faces: Jerome Cowan, who was in every other Warner Brothers movie of the early 40s ( e.g., Miles Archer in the Maltese Falcon), Rudy Vallee, Hugh Herbert, and Leo Gorcey (perhaps a Carl Foreman connection here: Foreman wrote two Bowery Boys scripts a few years earlier). The ladies, Virginia Grey and Dona Drake, were glamorous. The score was by Dmitri Tiomkin, but I honestly can't remember a note he wrote. He did a more memorable score when he rejoined Kramer and Foreman on High Noon.
The weak link, I regret to say, was Henry. Aside from the witty voice-overs, he mostly sat and looked glum while the others acted rings around him. Even Arnold Stang, the stooge from Henry's radio show, stole their one brief scene together. And, there was zero chemistry between Henry and his wife played by Virginia Grey. Henry Morgan fans will be willing to overlook his shortcomings as a screen actor because this is his only comedy movie role. The rest of the world won't, and there are more of them than there are of us.
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