Manhattan Melodrama


1h 33m 1934
Manhattan Melodrama

Brief Synopsis

Boyhood friends grow up on opposite sides of the law.

Film Details

Also Known As
Three Men
Genre
Drama
Crime
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
May 4, 1934
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

Blackie Gallagher and Jim Wade lose their parents when the General Slocum sinks in New York harbor, but they are rescued by Father Joe. Because he has lost his own son, kindly Poppa Rosen takes the boys in, but a few years later he, too, is killed, trampled by police horses used to break up a riot against the Russian agitator Leon Trotsky. While Blackie grows up gambling and playing, Jim studies hard and becomes an attorney. During the 1920s, Blackie runs a gambling club while Jim has been elected district attorney. Blackie worships Jim, even though they are on opposite sides of the law. When Blackie's mistress Eleanor meets Jim, she is also impressed, and tries to convince Blackie to stop gambling and settle down with her. He lets her go, not wanting to change his life, and wishes Jim luck when he marries Eleanor some months later. After gambler Manny Arnold is shot, suspicion rests on Blackie. Because Spud, their childhood pal, has accidentally left Jim's coat at the scene of the crime, Blackie has Spud bring an exact duplicate that he has had his tailor make to Jim, thus mistakenly convincing Jim that Blackie is innocent. Soon Jim runs for governor, but his assistant, Richard Snow, tries to pressure him by indicating that the Arnold case makes Jim look like he is mixed up with murderers. Eleanor tells Blackie about it and Blackie murders Snow in a men's room, unaware that a man sitting outside is not blind, as he pretends, and reports Blackie's crime to the police. During the gubernatorial campaign, Jim must try Blackie for murder. Though convicted, Blackie is still proud of Jim's honesty, and is happy when Jim is elected governor. Eleanor pleads with Jim to pardon Blackie, but he refuses, even after she tells him that Blackie killed Snow to help him. Jim changes his mind after she leaves him though and visits Blackie, but Blackie says that he would rather be electrocuted than get life in prison. After Blackie's death, Jim resigns as governor and Eleanor embraces him after he leaves the state assembly.

Cast

Clark Gable

Blackie Gallagher

William Powell

Jim Wade

Myrna Loy

Eleanor

Leo Carrillo

Father Joe

Nat Pendleton

Spud

George Sidney

Poppa Rosen

Isabel Jewell

Annabelle

Muriel Evans

Tootsie Malone

Thomas Jackson

Richard Snow

Frank Conroy

Defense attorney

Noel Madison

Manny Arnold

Jimmy Butler

Jim as a boy

Mickey Rooney

Blackie as a boy

Shirley Ross

Black singer in The Cotton Club

Sam Mcdaniel

Black prison on death row

Samuel S. Hinds

Warden

Herman Bing

German proprietor

Leonid Kinskey

Trotsky aide

Leo Lange

Leon Trotsky

Landers Stevens

Inspector of police

Harry Seymour

Piano player

William N. Bailey

Croupier

King Mojave

Croupier

W. R. Walsh

Croupier

Charles R. Moore

Black man in speakeasy

John Marston

Coates

Lew Harvey

Crap dealer

Billy Arnold

Blackjack dealer

Jim James

Chemin de fer dealer

Stanley Taylor

Police intern

James Curtis

Party leader

Edward Van Sloan

Skipper of yacht

Jay Eaton

Drunk

Harrison Greene

"Eleanor's" Dance partner

Leslie Preston

"Jim's" dance partner

William Stack

Judge

Emmett Vogan

Assistant district attorney

Sherry Hall

Assistant district attorney

Lee Phelps

Bailiff

Charles Dunbar

Panhandler

John M. Bleifer

Chauffeur

Al Thompson

Street spectator

G. Pat Collins

Killer in prison

Wade Boteler

Guard in prison

James C. Eagles

Boy in prison

Don Brody

Reporter

Ralph Mccullough

Reporter

Eddie Hart

Reporter

George Irving

Campaingn manager

Garry Owen

Campaign manager

Burt Russell

Blind beggar

Dixie Lotten

Irish woman

Pepi Sinoff

Jewish woman

Donald Haines

Stud

Bert Sprotte

German note holder

William Irving

German note holder

Vernon Dent

Old German man

Jack Lipson

Uncle August

Oscar Apfel

Speaker of assembly

Carl Stockdale

Policeman

Lee Shumway

Policeman

Jack Kenny

Policeman

Henry Roquemore

Band leader

Alexander Melesh

Master of ceremonies

Curtis Benton

Announcer

Stanley Blystone

Detective

William Augustin

Detective

Photo Collections

Manhattan Melodrama - Behind-the-Scenes Photo
Here is a photo taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Manhattan Melodrama (1943), starring William Powell and Myrna Loy.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Three Men
Genre
Drama
Crime
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
May 4, 1934
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Award Wins

Best Writing, Screenplay

1935

Articles

Manhattan Melodrama


1934 was a good year for Clark Gable. He won his only Academy Award® for Best Actor in It Happened One Night. And the film won an additional four awards before the night was over, including the award for Best Picture. But Gable also had a role in the memorable Manhattan Melodrama (1934) which won the Oscar® for Best Original Story that same year.

The winning storyline of Manhattan Melodrama, boyhood pals who remain friends despite being on opposite sides of the law, has since become a classic movie plot. In Manhattan Melodrama, Gable plays Blackie a gambler who resorts to murder to protect a friend. William Powell is his boyhood pal, now a DA, who must choose between friendship and his own conscience. This plot has often been recycled into new movies with the same basic premise. The story was remade as Northwest Rangers in 1942, and though not called a remake, the movie Angels With Dirty Faces (1938) shares a very similar plot.

Writer Arthur Caesar is credited with the story for Manhattan Melodrama and was the only one of the film's three screenwriters (the other two were Oliver H.P. Garrett and Joesph L. Mankiewicz) to receive the Oscar®. Caesar was something of a wild card, even by Hollywood standards. He had written a play called Napoleon's Brother that was made into director John Ford's first talkie in 1928. Caesar was put under contract by Fox, but apparently his biting sense of humor eventually cost him his job. Darryl F. Zanuck, then at Warner Bros., seemed more able to tolerate Caesar's outspokenness than others and put him to work. And Caesar had success at Warner Bros. turning out winners like The Heart of New York (1932), the Joe E. Brown vehicle, Fireman Save My Child, and his Oscar® winning Manhattan Melodrama.

One interesting side note, Manhattan Melodrama was the film John Dillinger saw before being gunned down outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago.

Producer: David O. Selznick
Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Screenplay: Arthur Caesar (story), Oliver H.P. Garrett, Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Cinematography: James Wong Howe
Film Editing: Ben Lewis
Original Music: Richard Rodgers (song)
Cast: Clark Gable (Edward "Blacki" Gallagher), William Powell (Jim Wade), Myrna Loy (Eleanor Packer), Leo Carrillo (Father Joe), Nat Pendelton (Spud).
BW-91m. Closed captioning.

by Stephanie Thames

Manhattan Melodrama

Manhattan Melodrama

1934 was a good year for Clark Gable. He won his only Academy Award® for Best Actor in It Happened One Night. And the film won an additional four awards before the night was over, including the award for Best Picture. But Gable also had a role in the memorable Manhattan Melodrama (1934) which won the Oscar® for Best Original Story that same year. The winning storyline of Manhattan Melodrama, boyhood pals who remain friends despite being on opposite sides of the law, has since become a classic movie plot. In Manhattan Melodrama, Gable plays Blackie a gambler who resorts to murder to protect a friend. William Powell is his boyhood pal, now a DA, who must choose between friendship and his own conscience. This plot has often been recycled into new movies with the same basic premise. The story was remade as Northwest Rangers in 1942, and though not called a remake, the movie Angels With Dirty Faces (1938) shares a very similar plot. Writer Arthur Caesar is credited with the story for Manhattan Melodrama and was the only one of the film's three screenwriters (the other two were Oliver H.P. Garrett and Joesph L. Mankiewicz) to receive the Oscar®. Caesar was something of a wild card, even by Hollywood standards. He had written a play called Napoleon's Brother that was made into director John Ford's first talkie in 1928. Caesar was put under contract by Fox, but apparently his biting sense of humor eventually cost him his job. Darryl F. Zanuck, then at Warner Bros., seemed more able to tolerate Caesar's outspokenness than others and put him to work. And Caesar had success at Warner Bros. turning out winners like The Heart of New York (1932), the Joe E. Brown vehicle, Fireman Save My Child, and his Oscar® winning Manhattan Melodrama. One interesting side note, Manhattan Melodrama was the film John Dillinger saw before being gunned down outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago. Producer: David O. Selznick Director: W.S. Van Dyke Screenplay: Arthur Caesar (story), Oliver H.P. Garrett, Joseph L. Mankiewicz Cinematography: James Wong Howe Film Editing: Ben Lewis Original Music: Richard Rodgers (song) Cast: Clark Gable (Edward "Blacki" Gallagher), William Powell (Jim Wade), Myrna Loy (Eleanor Packer), Leo Carrillo (Father Joe), Nat Pendelton (Spud). BW-91m. Closed captioning. by Stephanie Thames

Quotes

Trivia

This is the movie John Dillinger was exiting at the Biograph Theater in Chicago when he was ambushed by the FBI and gunned down. He was with female companions Polly Hamilton and Anna Sage (the woman in red).

After Dillinger was killed, William Randolph Hearst had the statement "A Cosmopolitan Production" removed from the credits of all prints. The print in the Turner library does not contain that credit. George Cukor was assigned as director for additional scenes after the preview showing on 14 April 1934, because director Van Dyke had already started on his next movie, The Thin Man. 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.

Notes

A working title of the film was Three Men. Daily Variety lists a preview running time of 100 min. A Hollywood Reporter news item on April 5, 1934 noted that U.S.C. football star "Cotton" Warburton was to make his film acting debut in the picture, however, his participation in the released film has not been confirmed. According to another Hollywood Reporter news item, after the April 14, 1934 preview showing, George Cukor was assigned to direct additional scenes for the picture because W. S. Van Dyke had already begun working on his next assignment, The Thin Man (see below). The song performed by Shirley Ross in "The Cotton Club" sequence was originally written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart for Jean Harlow to sing in the film Hollywood Party, and was called "Prayer." Neither Harlow nor the song appeared in the released version of Hollywood Party, and Hart wrote new lyrics for the version included in Manhattan Melodrama. According to a modern source, Jack Robbins of M-G-M's music publishing company reportedly liked the tune so much that he asked Hart to write more commercially appealing lyrics. The result became the song's more familiar words under its final title, "Blue Moon." The song was copyrighted under that title in December 1934. According to information in the file on the film contained in the MPAA/PCA Collection in the AMPAS Library, the film was approved for exhibition in 1934 by the Hays Office, although some objections were raised by the office in connection with the riot during the Leon Trotsky speech early in the film and a general anti-police attitude in the picture. Specific objections were raised prior to production to any inference that Myrna Loy's character was a "moll" or "mistress." The Hays Office requested that her character appear to be a "sweetheart." They also suggested that any references to the splitting of "Blackie's" trousers before his execution and the dimming of lights during the execution were "censorable" in most territories. Although objections were also raised about the line of dialogue in which just prior to his execution "Blackie" orders a black lace nightgown for his girl friend, saying "Black for me and lace for the next guy," the line was retained. After the film's preview, Will H. Hays sent a memo to Joseph I. Breen in the office in Los Angeles and said that the way Gable spoke the line it sounded like "Black for me and lays for the next guy," causing considerable laughing in the theater. Hays added in the memo: "This has gone now, but it shows how careful we have to be [in the future]." When the picture was re-issued in 1937, it was issued a Purity Seal and was accepted without eliminations in most states and territories. The picture was one of M-G-M's biggest hits of 1934 and appeared on several "ten best" lists. It marked the first time that Loy appeared onscreen with either Gable or William Powell, with whom she made numerous pictures throughout the next decade, and the only time in which Gable and Powell co-starred. In a memo written by producer David O. Selznick, reprinted in a modern source, Selznick stated that he had brought Powell to M-G-M over the protests of other executives at the studio, and said that the film, which cost very little to produce was "an enormous moneymaker." Arthur Caesar won an Academy Award for Best Story for the film. According to modern sources, corroborated by photographs from contemporary newspapers, notorious gangster John Dillinger was shot by FBI agents on July 22, 1934 in front of the Chicago movie theater in which he had just seen this film. Gable appeared on M-G-M's Good News radio program on May 5, 1938 to recreate the character in an abridged version of the story. Manhattan Melodrama was remade by M-G-M in 1942 under the title Northwest Rangers, directed by Joseph Newman and starring James Craig and William Lundigan. That film had a Canadian setting.