Little Old New York


1h 40m 1940

Brief Synopsis

Steamboat inventor Robert Fulton shows up in New York in 1807. Tavern keeper (Faye) believes in him, but her boyfriend (MacMurray) doesn't. All seems lost when sailors afraid of losing their jobs burn his boat.

Film Details

Also Known As
In Old New York
Release Date
Feb 9, 1940
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 3 Feb 1940
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Little Old New York by Rida Johnson Young (New York, 8 Sep 1920).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,000ft

Synopsis

In New York in 1807, the courtly Robert Fulton, newly arrived from England and proudly bearing his model for a revolutionary new steam boat, stops at a waterfront tavern owned by the blustery yet fanciful Pat O'Day. There, Robert is assaulted by Regan, a bullying ship yard owner, and when Regan's employee, Charles Brownne, refuses to join the brawl, Regan fires him. After licking Regan, Robert hires Charlie to build the hull for his new boat. When his financial backer, Robert Livingstone, withdraws his funding, Robert is about to give up his dream until Livingstone's niece Harriet, who is in love with Robert, convinces her uncle to refinance the boat. As the boat nears completion, Regan incites his men to destroy the vessel. Undaunted, Harriet and Pat, who is also in love with Robert, set about raising money for a new hull. Another obstacle in Robert's path appears when Jefferson's embargo threatens delivery of his engine, but under cover of fog, Robert and his men steal the engine from the embargoed ship's hold. More problems arise when Pat's feelings for Robert cause friction between him and Charlie, but Robert ends the rivalry by declaring his love for Harriet. With all impediments removed, Robert's ship, the Clermont , begins to navigate under its own steam, astounding skeptics and revolutionizing river travel.

Film Details

Also Known As
In Old New York
Release Date
Feb 9, 1940
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 3 Feb 1940
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Little Old New York by Rida Johnson Young (New York, 8 Sep 1920).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,000ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was In Old New York. According to materials contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, Darryl Zanuck originally wanted Henry Fonda to play the role of "Charles Brownne." Zanuck insisted that the film begin with Robert Fulton arriving in New York rather than with his boyhood as had been previously proposed. Zanuck also suggested that the character of "Brownne" be developed to break up the original love triangle between "Fulton," "Pat" and "Harriet." Fox story materials further disclose that Ethel Hill worked on a treatment, but her contribution to the final film has not been confirmed. Fox publicity materials contained in the Production Files at the AMPAS Library note that the film originally did not include any songs because Zanuck wanted to emphasize Alice Faye's acting abilities. A song was added however, after Faye's fans complained. The New York Times adds that studio mechanics used Fulton's diaries to build a replica of the two-cycle engine and paddle-wheel of the Clermont. According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, Fox built three huge sailing ships and 25 smaller boats for this production. Another news item in Hollywood Reporter adds that cameraman Edward Snyder filmed background shots in New York. Fox borrowed Andy Devine from Universal for this film. In 1923, Goldwyn-Cosmopolitan produced a film based on Fulton's life, also titled Little Old New York, starring Marion Davies and directed by Sidney Olcott (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.3126).