World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Manhattan Melodrama

Article Id: WHEBN0000691308
Reproduction Date:

Title: Manhattan Melodrama  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: W. S. Van Dyke, Jimmy Butler (actor), Arthur Caesar, Isabel Jewell, Muriel Evans
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Manhattan Melodrama

Manhattan Melodrama
Theatrical Film Poster
Directed by W. S. Van Dyke
Produced by David O. Selznick
Written by Arthur Caesar (story)
Oliver H. P. Garrett
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
David Ogden Stewart (uncredited)
Starring Clark Gable
William Powell
Myrna Loy
Music by William Axt
Cinematography James Wong Howe
Edited by Ben Lewis
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • May 4, 1934 (1934-05-04)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $355,000[1]
Box office $1,233,000[1]

Manhattan Melodrama is a 1934 American Pre-Code crime melodrama film, produced by MGM, directed by W. S. Van Dyke, and starring Clark Gable, William Powell, and Myrna Loy. The movie also provided one of the earliest film roles for Mickey Rooney, who played Gable's character as a child.

Filmed relatively quickly and with a modest budget, it was expected to return a profit but not to capture the imagination of the public. The picture's smash hit success surprised the studio and made major stars of screen veterans Myrna Loy and William Powell in the first of their fourteen screen pairings, and also solidified the success of MGM's most popular male lead, Clark Gable. The film has a nightclub scene featuring Shirley Ross singing a song called "The Bad in Every Man." After the film's release, the lyrics were rewritten by Lorenz Hart as the retitled "Blue Moon".

The film entered the lexicon of history as it was seen by John Dillinger. Dillinger attended a showing at Chicago's Biograph Theater on July 22, 1934. After leaving the theater he was shot to death by federal agents.[2] Myrna Loy was among those who expressed distaste at the studio's willingness to exploit this event for the financial benefit of the film. Scenes from Manhattan Melodrama, in addition to Dillinger's death, are depicted in the 2009 film Public Enemies.

Hogan's Alley, the mock-up town used by the FBI Academy for training scenarios, display's the film's title on its "downtown" cinema marquee.

Arthur Caesar won an Academy Award for Best Story for this film.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Box office 3
  • In Popular Culture 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


On June 15, 1904, the ship Leon Trotsky at a Communist rally and a melee breaks out.

The boys remain close friends, though their lives diverge. Studious from the very beginning, Jim (played as an adult by William Powell) gets his law degree and eventually becomes the assistant district attorney. Blackie is a cheerful, happy-go-lucky kid who loves to throw dice and trick other kids out of their money; he (Clark Gable) becomes the owner of a fancy, if illegal, casino. Though his casino is regularly "raided", the cops have been paid off and business resumes immediately after they leave. Blackie's girlfriend Eleanor (Myrna Loy) loves him, but pleads with him in vain to marry her and give up his dangerous life.

Jim is appointed district attorney. Blackie, always a supporter and admirer of Jim's (knowing he is incorruptible), arranges to meet him for a celebration, but something comes up, and he sends Eleanor to keep Jim company at the Cotton Club until he can join them. Jim and Eleanor talk the night away. Afterward, she gives Blackie one last chance to marry her and settle down. When Blackie refuses, she leaves him.

Months later, Jim and Eleanor meet by chance and start keeping company (she informs Jim that she has not seen Blackie for months). Meanwhile, Blackie kills Manny Arnold (Noel Madison) for not paying his gambling debts. Jim summons him to his office, where he tells him that he and Eleanor are going to get married. Blackie is sincerely happy for both of them. Jim also informs his friend that he is a suspect in the Arnold murder. However, there is no real evidence, so the crime goes unsolved.

Though Jim invites him to be the best man at his wedding, Blackie discreetly turns him down. After returning from his honeymoon, Jim runs for governor of New York. Snow (Thomas E. Jackson), who had been his chief assistant until Jim fired him for corruption, threatens to tell reporters that Jim covered up for Blackie in the Arnold case. Though untrue, this would lose Jim a close race for the governorship. By chance, Blackie and Eleanor meet at the horse track. Eleanor tells Blackie about Snow. Blackie shoots Snow dead in a washroom of Madison Square Garden during a hockey game. A beggar who pretends to be blind sees him leave the scene of the crime. Jim has no choice but to prosecute Blackie. Blackie is convicted and sentenced to death.

Jim wins the election, partly because the public knows that Jim is so honest he prosecuted his childhood friend. Eleanor tries to get him to commute the sentence to life imprisonment, revealing Blackie's selfless motive for killing Snow, but that only makes things worse. When Jim remains steadfast, Eleanor leaves him.

At the last moment, Jim hurries to Sing Sing Prison and meets Blackie, together with Father Joe, who is now the prison's chaplain. Jim finally offers to commute the death sentence, but Blackie turns him down. Father Joe leads Blackie to the electric chair while saying last rites.

A few days later Jim calls a special joint session of the New York Legislature. He reveals how the murder helped him win the election and how at the end he compromised his principles and was willing to commute his friend's sentence. He then tenders his resignation. When he leaves, Eleanor is waiting for him. She tells him that she was wrong about him, and they leave together to start a new life.


Box office

According to MGM records the film earned $735,000 in the US and Canada and $498,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $415,000.[1]

In Popular Culture

On July 22, 1934, gangster John Dillinger was shot and killed by federal law enforcement agents as he exited the Biograph Theater in Chicago immediately after viewing this film.


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles, California: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ Allan May and Marilyn Bardsley. John Dillinger at TruTV

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from School eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.