Manhattan Melodrama (1934) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • As young boys, best of friends Jim Wade and Blackie Gallagher lose both their parents in a riverboat accident. Although they remain close friend they definitely take different paths in life. Blackie was always the streetwise kid and as an adult, now works on the edge of the criminal world running casinos and speakeasies. He steps over the line by killing Manny Arnold over money he's owed. Jim meanwhile went to school eventually earning a law degree. He also gets himself elected as the city's prosecutor. Blackie's girlfriend, Eleanor Packer, wants him to go straight and leaves him when he refuses to do so she meets up with Jim and they are soon married. As DA, Jim never solves the Manny Arnold case but rises in politics becoming candidate for Governor. After Jim is accused of protecting his friend in the Mannie Arnold case, Blackie steps in and tries to take care of it. Jim is still the DA however and he finds himself prosecuting his lifelong friend and ultimately having to make a fateful decision.


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