Friday, June 28, 2013

MANHATTAN MELODRAMA (1934)

I was a little disappointed in this film. It was alright, but with so much talent in front of the screen (Myrna Loy, Clark Gable, William Powell and Nat Pendleton – who I think was the best part of the whole movie), not to mention behind the camera: W.S. Van Dyke, Joseph L. Mankiewicz and George Cukor I was really expecting more.

The story is your basic Cain and Abel hokum with two orphans growing up as brothers. One goes the straight and narrow to become a prominent political figure and the other the local kingpin of illegal gambling. Throw in the fact that they are both in love with the same woman and you got…well, nothing really. You would expect for there to be fireworks, but the script plays it safe from beginning to end and there’s never any tension or surprise moments.

I love William Powell, but I thought he was kinda weak here. Maybe it was just that the lame script gave him nothing to work with, but whatever the problem was I think Spencer Tracy would have done a much better job in the role of the honest lawyer. Another thing that really bothered me was why didn’t the three main stars ever appear onscreen together at the same time? That's kinda odd.

Oh well, the film is okay, Clark Gable puts in a great performance as does Nat Pendelton who gets a surprising amount of screen time, but other than that this film is just average. A definite watch for classic film lovers, but others would be better off watching ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES since it’s pretty much the same story.

Interesting trivia: John Dillinger was leaving the Biograph Theater in Chicago, Ill. when he was confronted by federal agents and then shot in the back.

Picture of the Biograph Theater with MANHATTAN MELODRAMA on the billboard: