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Manhattan Melodrama (1934) Poster

Trivia

This was the movie that bank robber John Dillinger had just seen before he was gunned down in front of Chicago's Biograph Theater on July 22, 1934. He had been set up by Anna Sage, the madam of a brothel, who knew Dillinger's girlfriend, Polly Hamilton. Sage was facing deportation and thought the tip might get her off. She told FBI agent Melvin Purvis that she would be wearing orange which appeared red, leading her to be dubbed "The Woman in Red". Dillinger was shot three times when he tried to escape, and Sage wound up being sent back to Romania.
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.
This is the first of 14 pairings of Myrna Loy and William Powell and the first of three movies they would make together in 1934.
William Powell (Jim Wade) and Clark Gable (Blackie Gallagher) were the first and second husbands of Carole Lombard respectively: Powell was married to her from June 26, 1931 until their divorce on August 16, 1933 while Gable was married to her from March 29, 1939 until she was killed in a plane crash on January 16, 1942. Lombard made her only movie with Gable, No Man of Her Own (1932), while she was married to Powell.
After John Dillinger was killed, William Randolph Hearst had the statement "A Cosmopolitan Production" removed from the credits of all prints; instead, producer David O. Selznick's and director W.S. Van Dyke's credits are repeated from the following card--thus their names appear twice in a row. The print in the Turner library is of this version.
Lorenz Hart was asked to write more commercially appealing lyrics to "The Bad in Every Man" after this movie was released. The result was "Blue Moon," which was copyrighted under that title in December 1934.
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George Cukor was assigned as director for additional scenes after the preview showing on 14 April 1934, because director W.S. Van Dyke had already started on his next movie, The Thin Man (1934).
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The movie and scenes from it are featured in the production of Public Enemies (2009) by director Michael Mann.
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When Myrna Loy learned that John Dillinger was killed after seeing this film, her reaction (according to reports) was, "Oh, that poor man."
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The film takes place from June 15, 1904 to 1934.
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The boat scene at the beginning features Vernon Dent as Otto the German Dancer and Dorothy Vernon as a Boat Passenger. Both of them traced their careers back to silent screen comedies and were later regulars in The Three Stooges shorts.
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"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60-minute radio adaptation of the movie on September 9, 1940 with William Powell and Myrna Loy reprising their film roles.
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This film was first telecast in Seattle Tuesday 18 December 1956 on KING (Channel 5); it first aired in Portland OR 2 March 1957 on KGW (Channel 8), in Chicago 18 March 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2), in Los Angeles 2 April 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), in Hartford CT 12 April 1957 on WHCT (Channel 18), in Honolulu 1 August 1957 on KHVH (Channel 13), in Philadelphia 30 August 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), in both Altoona PA and Minneapolis 25 September 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10) and KMGM (Channel 9), in San Francisco 9 February 1958 on KGO (Channel 7) and in New York City 24 August 1958 on WCBS (Channel 2)..
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This film won the Best Writing, Original Story Oscar for its only Academy Award nomination.
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