Synopsis by Mark Deming
The wild and woolly early days of New York -- when it was still known as New Amsterdam -- provide the backdrop for this period musical-comedy. In 1650, Peter Stuyvesant (Charles Coburn) arrives in New Amsterdam to assume his duties as governor. Stuyvesant is hardly the fun-loving type, and one of his first official acts is to call for the death of Brom Broeck (Nelson Eddy), a newspaper publisher well-known for his fearless exposes of police and government corruption. However, Broeck hasn't done anything that would justify the death penalty, so Stuyvesant waits (without much patience) for Broeck to step out of line. Broeck is romancing a beautiful woman named Tina Tienhoven (Constance Dowling), whose sister Ulda (Shelley Winters) happens to be dating his best friend, Ten Pin (Johnnie "Scat" Davis). After Stuyvesant's men toss Broeck in jail on a trumped-up charge, Stuyvesant sets his sights on winning Tina's affections. However, as Broeck begins to organize his fellow New Amsterdamians in a bid for independence, he tries to convince Stuyvesant that working for justice might do him more good that following his current policies of graft and corruption. Based on a Broadway musical with songs by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson, Knickerbocker Holiday's score was beefed up for its screen incarnation with a number of new tunes by Sammy Cahn and Jules Styne, though the best known song from the stage version remained the best remembered selection from the film, September Song.
corruption, frame-up, newspaper, politician, publisher