Child of Manhattan (1933)

Passed   |    |  Drama, Romance

Child of Manhattan (1933) Poster

Paul Vanderkill is extraordinarily wealthy because his grandfather happened to buy farmland in what was to become Midtown Manhattan. The Loveland Dance Hall is one of the tenants of the ... See full summary »


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27 June 2010 | tedg
Here's an interesting old movie, one of the earliest examples of a formula that would later define a whole genre, more a whole industry. Man meets girl and immediately falls in love. There is an event followed by a misunderstanding that send them apart. They rejoin at the end. Later this ending would require a public avowal, something missing here.

This is also an example of somethings that did not stick. Deep in the depression, many movies featured the ultra rich - people who just seemed to have money for no reason. Because this was before comical prudery changed films starting with the Code, we have the situation that guy knocks up the girl.

But I found it interesting for yet another reason. Movies from this era were far more willing to question gender roles than now is the case. Oh, today we worry about professions and opportunity. I'm talking about what it means to be a woman or man. In this film, we have our girl, with appealing innocence. She is the child of Manhattan, with clear immigrant, lower class heritage. Both she and the rich guy are noble people, but she far more. The film is about her decisions.

Sturges has taken the time to introduce four older women. They are shoehorned in and have nothing at all to do with the story; they are there only to show strong women, sometimes frustrated strength. There is the older woman at the dance hall where our girl works, who is much loved as she takes care of her girls. We have the aunt of our rich guy who is shown as a forceful nut job.

Then we have the girl's mother. We learn a lot about her past and values. She turns her daughter out on the street when she gets pregnant by her then boyfriend. This woman slaps her adult kids, hard. We spend the final third of the movie with the girl's aunt, something of a world traveller, a poor person's playgirl. She drinks too much but always seems to be on top of things.

Four strong women form the situation-of-womanhood in which we interpret our girl's life. Nothing like that today in mainstream films.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.

Critic Reviews


Release Date:

10 April 1936


English, Spanish

Country of Origin


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