It's 1650 in New Amsterdam, and Brom Broeck, a young outspoken newspaper publisher is arrested for printing advanced opinions on the undemocratic rule of Govenor "Peg-Leg" Stuyvesant. While...
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It's 1650 in New Amsterdam, and Brom Broeck, a young outspoken newspaper publisher is arrested for printing advanced opinions on the undemocratic rule of Govenor "Peg-Leg" Stuyvesant. While Brom is in prison, old "Peg-Leg" goes on the make for Brom's sweetheart. But, when "Peg-Leg" is forced to release Brom... Watch-out!Written by
Washington Irving, author of "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", was a prominent character in the stage version of this musical, where he was played by Ray Middleton; however, he was completely omitted from the film version. See more »
The 1938 stage musical, with book and lyrics by Maxwell Anderson (a conservative, and he hated Roosevelt; not for nothing is a "Roosevelt" presented here as a dimwitted ancestor) and music by Kurt Weill, was a flawed but very interesting look at the dangers of despotism, with a near-amazing score and a legendary Walter Huston performance. It's noticeably watered down in this independently produced 1944 adaptation, with a fraction of the original score ("Nowhere to Go But Up," "September Song," "The One Indispensable Man," and snatches of "It Never Was You" in the background) overwhelmed by interpolations, mostly by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn, and they're not very good. The story is simplified, the bloody battles are eliminated, and the fun device of having Washington Irving narrate the story and interact with these figures from the past is gone. Nelson Eddy's more animated than usual and of course sings well, but there's not a lot of chemistry between him and his leading lady, a pallid Constance Dowling. Coburn acts Pieter Stuyvesant well but sure doesn't deliver much of a "September Song," and the supporting cast is mostly nobodies, though "Shelley Winter" (no s yet) is a noticeable giggling soubrette, a role not in the original. What it does have going for it is a fetching production design that conjures up a whimsical old Nieuw Amsterdam, and some of Anderson's speculation about the damage corrupt leaders do does survive. It rushes to an end, though, and so much great Weill is missing. Worth a look, certainly, but if you want to know how it's supposed to sound, there are complete recordings out there now, and Huston's own "September Song," which became a posthumous hit for him when tacked onto a 1950 movie, "September Affair," is the ultimate example of somebody with no voice making a song unforgettable.
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