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Manhattan Melodrama (2003)

tomatometer

60

Average Rating: 5.8/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.

audience

72

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 815

My Rating

Movie Info

Notorious as the movie that gangster John Dillinger attended on the night he was killed, Manhattan Melodrama has weathered the years as one of MGM's finest examples of pure storytelling. The pageant-like story begins in 1904, when the excursion steamer "General Slocum" blows up and burns in the East River. Two young boys are orphaned by the disaster. They are adopted by a kindly Jewish businessman (Harry Green) who has lost his own children. Years later, when he is killed during a anarchist

Aug 7, 2007

Warner Home Video

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All Critics (13) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (11) | Rotten (2) | DVD (1)

Well directed by W. S. Van Dyke, superbly photographed by famed Chinese Cinematographer James Wong Howe, Manhattan Melodrama is first-rate cinema, chiefly important because it marks the elevation to stardom of Myrna Loy.

July 26, 2010 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Apart from the Clark Gable-William Powell stellar duo and Myrna Loy, who does an excellent job as the principal femme, the Arthur Caesar story is replete with punchy popularly-appealing ingredients.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One finds a mechanical plot which is scarcely worthy of the cast, which includes Clark Gable, William Powell, Myrna Loy and Leo Carrillo.

August 8, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is an archetypal gangster movie of the period, a product of the moral backlash instigated by Hoover and the Hays Office.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This 1934 feature was the last movie John Dillinger saw before being gunned down outside the Biograph, and he might have had better luck on both counts.

January 10, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This MGM prestige production, winner of the Original Story Oscar, features its top stars, Gable, William Powell and Myrna Loy.

March 21, 2013 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

A splendid example of 1930s hardboiled melodrama.

July 26, 2010 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Noted as the last movie John Dillinger ever saw.

July 20, 2010 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The drama may be clunky and old-fashioned, but once Melodrama gets rolling, it never stops engaging the viewer.

August 20, 2007 Full Review Source: DVDTalk.com
DVDTalk.com

Melodrama, yes. But effectively done with a dream cast.

May 23, 2004
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

A very adult film with a credibly thorough exploration of those decisions that become "every day" based upon the lifestyle of the decision-maker.

December 30, 2003 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

A great combination of tour-de-force acting and quality drama.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Audience Reviews for Manhattan Melodrama

Manhattan Melodrama is famous for being the last movie that infamous bank robber John Dillinger saw before being gunned down outside the Biograph Theatre on July 22nd 1934. Obviously I was interested in seeing the film due to its history surrounding that legendary showing. This is a brilliant gangster film that is a defining classic of the genre. Brilliantly acted by Clark Gable, this is a must see for cinema buffs who enjoy classic films that helped defined the genre. Before there was The Godfather, there was this film. Clark Gable is impressive here and the story is quite good and highly engaging. This is also a must see for people that are fascinated with John Dillinger because I feel that in some way, this movie is part of his legacy. Nonetheless, the plot is engaging and like I said is a classic gangster picture that would pave the way for all to follow. I really enjoyed the film, and felt it was very different from other films in the genre. In that respect, it is a film that helped shape the crime genre. Manhattan Melodrama is filled with action, drama, a good cast and effective pacing to really make this stand out. I really enjoyed the film and thought it was an entertaining gangster film, definitely among the finest in the genre. There are of course better genre films, but Manhattan Melodrama is a worthwhile viewing experience that should definitely thrill the diehard cinema buff. W.s Van Dyke has crafted a memorable and historically significant picture that stands out even by today's standards.
August 1, 2013
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

"Manhattan Melodrama," which won an Oscar for Best Screenplay, is yet another 1930s gem that I've found lately. First was "Dancing Lady," then "Hell's Angels," and now "Manhattan Melodrama." The 1930s were a golden age of American cinema, and I've barely scratched the surface of it. How exciting it must have been in that era to work in the movies.

Clark Gable (who was also in "Dancing Lady") and William Powell play men who've had a life-long bond. They were orphaned together on the same day in a terrible boating accident. One is studious and upstanding (Powell); the other (Gable) is a drop-out who got into bootlegging and gambling.

When the studious one becomes Manhattan District Attorney, his close friendship with a gangster becomes a problem. When their lives begin to intersect more, including sharing a woman (played wonderfully by Myrna Loy), the complications multiply. It's a fascinating, pretty serious drama that I can't imagine would disappoint anyone. It's also briskly paced, brilliantly edited, and perfectly directed (by W.S. Van Dyke). Highly recommended.

Incidental note: Gangster John Dillinger saw this movie the night he died. He was shot by FBI agents as he exited the theater. I can certainly see why he would have been attracted to this movie. It's a complex portrait of a boy born on the wrong side of the tracks.
September 4, 2011
Bill D 2007
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

I'm not sure why this film is talked about so much, it isn't very different from other gangster movies of the time. There are some good actors in the movie, though, the best thing about this movie was the actors.
September 12, 2010
ajv2688

Super Reviewer

Notorious but very hokey drama. Gable exudes charisma and star quality but Powell is just too good to be true and Myrna Loy is surprisingly arch and affected. A bad performance from a usually stellar actress.
March 24, 2009
jjnxn
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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