7.2/10
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45 user 24 critic

Manhattan Melodrama (1934)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 4 May 1934 (USA)
The friendship between two orphans endures even though they grow up on opposite sides of the law and fall in love with the same woman.

Directors:

W.S. Van Dyke, George Cukor (uncredited)

Writers:

Oliver H.P. Garrett (screen play), Joseph L. Mankiewicz (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Complete credited 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 E. Jackson ... Richard Snow (as Thomas Jackson)
Isabelle Keith ... Miss Adams (as Claudelle Kaye)
Frank Conroy ... Defense Attorney
Noel Madison ... Manny Arnold
Jimmy Butler ... Jim - as a Boy
Mickey Rooney ... Blackie - as a Boy
Shirley Ross ... Singer in Cotton Club
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Storyline

Orphans Edward "Blackie" Gallagher and Jim Wade are lifelong friends who take different paths in life. Blackie thrives on gambling and grows up to be a hard-nosed racketeer. Bookworm Wade becomes a D.A. vying for the Governorship. When Blackie's girlfriend Eleanor leaves him and marries the more down to earth Wade, Blackie harbors no resentment. In fact, their friendship is so strong that Blackie murders an attorney threatening to derail Wade's bid to become Governor. The morally straight Wade's last job as D.A. is to convict his friend of the murder, and send him to the electric chair. After he becomes Governor, Wade has the authority to commute Blackie's death sentence-- a decision that pits his high moral ethics against a lifelong friendship. Written by Gary Jackson <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 May 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El enemigo público número 1 See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

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. See more »

Goofs

In the close up of the newspaper announcing Jim as the new D.A., in the upper right corner, the newspaper is being sold for "Five Cens". See more »

Quotes

Eleanor Packer: Entertaining your gunslinger pals is bad enough, but politicians? Oh, no, that's out!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Bullets Over Hollywood (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Gaudeamus Igitur
(uncredited)
Traditional
Played as background music when Jim Wade gets his law degree
See more »

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User Reviews

A fascinatingly unusual drama
21 March 2001 | by Mr. PulseSee all my reviews

Well, unusual for me. Perhaps at the time, the circumstances, what have you, it was not so unusual. But for me, watching Clark Gable portray a happy-go-lucky double murderer, who garners tons of sympathy from the audience; it was a first.

Manhattan Melodrama is a film of dubious and rather interesting morals. Who's the hero? Who's the villain? Childhood friends Jim and Blackie grow up very different men, Jim becomes DA of New York City, while Blackie runs a casino, and performs other unsavory activities. Eventually, their positions force them into conflict, but it's not your typical run-of-the-mill courtroom drama.

Blackie in most films would be a villain, he is after all a gangster and a murderer, amongst other activities. But here he's played by Clark Gable, about as charming an actor as ever lived, and the movie takes place in the 1930s, when gangster pictures like Little Caesar elevated these types of men into hero roles.

The picture makes a very blatant message against the heroic vision of gangsters (In a speech by Jim that feels as if the men who controlled the Production Code were standing off screen holding the cue cards for him). But I couldn't help feeling sympathy for the character, after the evil deeds he did. Meanwhile Jim, a hardworking individual who is uncorruptable, comes off as "cold" by the end of the picture. The way this movie sidesteps conventional roles is really interesting.

The lead woman in the picture, Eleanor, is rather interesting too. Watch how she jumps back and forth and between the men, and for what reasons.

I don't fully understand this movie, and it's not one of the most exciting films I've ever seen, but it's one of the most interesting ones I've seen in quite a while.


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