Manhattan Melodrama (1934)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Buddy Film, Crime Drama  |   Release Date - May 4, 1934 (USA)  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Richard Gilliam

Manhattan Melodrama was one of MGM's best films from the mid-1930s, an impeccably produced crime drama with charismatic performances from its co-stars, Clark Gable and William Powell. The theme is that of the honorable crook (Gable) who sacrifices his life to help his more honest childhood friend (Powell), who has now become the governor. The story is interesting from a sociological viewpoint -- clearly the film has none of the objections to capital punishment that would begin surfacing in films in the 1950s. Every aspect of production is first-rate, and in the tech credits you'll find such legendary names as set designer Cedric Gibbons, sound engineer Douglas Shearer, and producer David O. Selznick. Perhaps best of all is cinematographer James Wong Howe's dark and occasionally moody visual style. Film noir was still more than ten years away, but precursor aspects can readily be found in Manhattan Melodrama.