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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Manhattan Melodrama (1934)

Two boys, one (Mickey Rooney) with a penchant for getting into trouble and the other (Jimmy Butler) more studious, are best friends. When their parents perish in a boating disaster, they are taken in by a Jewish gentleman (George Sidney, uncle of the director of the same name) who has lost his son in the same accident. As adults (Rooney morphs into Clark Gable, Butler into William Powell), they find themselves on the opposite sides of the law. Gable is a gangster and Powell is a district attorney with plans to run for the Governor of New York but their bond is still strong. This film was the closest that MGM got to the grittier, edgier socially conscious style that was the domain of Warners. One can easily see this made at Warners with Cagney in Gable's place and Pat O'Brien in the Powell part. Being MGM however, there's a gloss to it. Gable was already a Star when this was made but Powell and Myrna Loy, as the woman they both love, would reunite later in the year for THE THIN MAN and become first rank stars themselves. It's a perfect example of the quality product the studio system could crank out in the so called Golden Age. Directed by W.S. Van Dyke and produced by David O. Selznick, the film became a part of history when the notorious John Dillinger was shot by federal agents leaving a theater showing the film. With Isabel Jewell, Leo Carrillo and Nat Pendleton.

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