Cast & Crew
Richard O. Fleischer
In a movie theater, cigar salesman Ernie Finch comments that the stories of real people are more interesting than fiction. Ernie then tells the story of how his wife inherited some money after the armistice in 1918, and dragged Ernie to New York to find her sister a husband: In South Bend, Indiana, Ernie's wife Ella and her sister, Kate Goff, whose uncle Fergus died in the war after making a fortune on a sausage contract, each inherit $30,000. Although Kate loves a local butcher named Willis Gilbey, Ella is determined to find Kate a wealthy, sophisticated husband. To please Ella, who is bored, Ernie reluctantly turns down a promotion from his boss, A. J. Gluckoter, and asks for a leave of absence, ostensibly to give Ella a rest cure in a New York sanitarium. Ernie also makes a pact with Willis to send for him as soon as the women tire of their search for the perfect man. On the train east, the sisters befriend Wall Street broker Francis Griffin, who, upon their arrival in Manhattan, takes them out to fancy nightclubs. When Griffin asks to show Ella an apartment he plans to rent, she is sure he is about to propose to Kate, but he instead propositions Ella, who slugs him. Ernie, Ella and Kate then get a swank apartment on Riverside Drive, where they meet Mr. Trumbult, a middle-aged, eccentric collector of jungle antiques. Although Kate dislikes him, she agrees to attend a private Hawaiian luau with him, but as they dance the hula, drunk, Trumbult's wife enters, having returned home early from a safari. Ernie, Ella and Kate then check in at the Baldwin, a convention hotel, where they meet Southern racehorse owner Herbert Daley. Herbert and his dissipated, hot-tempered jockey, Sid Mercer, compete for Kate's affection, and while Herbert is out of town, Sid proposes. She turns him down after Herbert offers her an expensive diamond engagement ring, so Sid plots his revenge. Herbert, who is part of a gambling syndicate, has fixed a race so that his horse Coyote will win, unaware that Sid plans to throw the race. Ella and Kate instruct Ernie to place $2,500 on Coyote, but he takes Sid's advice and bets on the longshot. When Coyote loses, Kate petulantly throws her engagement ring at Herbert, who is then shot while trying to flee from his angry cohorts. Next, Ernie, Ella and Kate move to a theatrical hotel, where they meet famous Ziegfeld Follies comic Jimmy Ralston. Kate and Ella naïvely invest the last of their inheritance in his play, in which he casts Kate as a maid, but the play flops. As the women cry over their lost fortune, Willis finally arrives and embraces Kate. After confessing that she invested Ernie's money in the play, too, Ella finally agrees to return home. Gluckoter, who is in town for a convention, then offers Ernie his job back. Once back in his Indiana home, Ernie innocently asks what Uncle Fergus would do if he knew they frittered away his fortune, and Uncle Fergus' portrait says, "Drop dead."
Richard O. Fleischer
Edward G. Boyle
Joe C. Gilpin
The film's working title was A Great Place to Visit. So This Is New York was the inaugural production for independent film company Screen Plays, Inc., which was a unit of Enterprise Productions. Although not Stanley Kramer's first film, the picture marked his first feature as an independent producer. The New York Times reported that because of budget cuts, a shot of feet walking on Broadway and a 1920 stock shot of Grand Central Station were used to avoid location shooting.
ABC Network radio comic Henry Morgan made his screen debut in the film. Morgan later gained additional fame as a panelist on the television series I've Got a Secret (1952-76) and should not be confused with character actor Henry "Harry" Morgan, who became noted for his portrayal of "Col. Sherman Potter" on the television series M*A*S*H (1972-83). In the film, when Morgan steps out of Grand Central Station and hails a taxi, the cab driver's New York accent and colloquialisms are translated into "American" English using subtitles. Arnold Stang, who portrayed the Western Union clerk in the film, was Morgan's sidekick on his radio show.
Although So This Is New York was not financially or critically successful in its time, some later critics highly praised the film for its satirical humor and cinematic technique. In May 2004, the film was shown as the opening night feature of New York City's TriBeCa Film Festival. According to a May 4, 2004 New York Times article, director Martin Scorsese was instrumental in convincing Kramer's widow to obtain a print of the picture from the UCLA Film & Television Archive and allow it to be shown at the TriBeCa event.