|So This Is New York (1948)
Run time: 79 min | Comedy
Director: Richard Fleischer
Writers: Carl Foreman, Herbert Baker
Stars: Henry Morgan, Rudy Vallee, Bill Goodwin
Upon a recently obtained inheritance, a small-town family comes to New York and manages to turn the town on its ear. A hilarious adaptation of Ring Lardner’s novel The Big Town, and a rarely seen gem.
Toronto Film Society is back in the theatre! However, we’re still pleased to continue to bring you films straight to your home! Beginning Season 73 until now we have...
Henry Morgan (the lead) was a radio comedian in the 30s. He had a daily show on which he did a monologue of his own whimsical and sardonic observations–better than most stand up comedians. I remember a "weather report" in which he predicted "snow, followed by little boys on sleds".
He made very few films. In this one, he is a salesman in a two-employee cigar store in Indianapolis, bullied by the owner who is always complaining that business has never been so bad. Henry’s wife has just inherited some money and has decided to use it to move to New York City (at least temporarily) and "make a big splash" so that her younger sister can marry a rich man more suitable than her present beau who is a small-town butcher’s helper. Henry is certain no good will come of this so he accompanies them on the train, making his trademark sarcastic wisecracks and keeping a record to the penny (without being requested) of everything they spend. Arriving at the station in New York, they ask a cab driver to take them to a hotel. He replies sullenly, semi-literately, in a heavy New York accent, something like "Where duh yuh wanna go?". A subtitle appears, "Where may I take you, sir?"
The direction is altogether superb. There is a device used that I have never seen used that way again. Today, on TV, it would be called a freeze frame, but the way it is used makes all the difference. It brings out, and emphasizes, character and prepares the audience for the action to follow. For example, in the dining car on the train, a con man (the audience knows this because he looks exactly like a movie con man of the 30s– sort of good looking, dandyish dress, pencil mustache, slicked-back greasy hair, big- city villainous, elaborate speech, yet a blow hard) tries to pick up the younger sister. The foolish wife is immediately deceived (though not Henry). As the scene is playing, one particular frame is frozen; one that shows him at his absolute worst, artificial, phony, slimy. It propels the action forward. It is completely different from the meaningless modern TV freeze of the last frame in a scene. (Though I’ll bet they all copied it from this movie.)
It is cynical, sophisticated comedy, though completely accessible. Not to be missed.
I first saw So This Is New York in my teens on the Million Dollar Movie hosted by Ted Steel on WOR TV New York in the early 50’s. I loved this film. At that time the Million Dollar Movie would show the same movie every night for a week. I watched every night! It is a wonderful satire on several levels; including marrying for money, small town folk going to the "big city", ham actors, show business, gamblers and infidelity war profiteering. The cast was wonderful. The writing is top notch with some great lines that sound even better because of the wonderful Henry Morgan. He was the perfect actor to play the part of the beleaguered husband. I hope this comes out on DVD.
Filmed in B&W. I saw this movie while I was still in my teens in 1948. It remains in my memory as one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. It used some clever techniques for the time, such as "stop action" with voice-over commentary. The movie chronicles the mis-adventures of a man who is dragged to NY, unwillingly, by his wife and her sister, who have delusions of grandeur. It is set in the late 1920s or early 1930s. They are taken advantage of by three broadly-drawn characters, played by Jerome Cowan (a con man), Leo Gorcey (a jockey), and Rudy Vallee (a rich, but flawed, man). I laugh again just thinking about it. I don’t know that it has ever been shown on television, but it should be.
A funny funny film! Definitely a "missing" gem. The play performed within the film ("Bridget Sees a Ghost") makes "Springtime for Hitler" look like Shakespeare! Morgan's voice overs are marvelous and the use of Rossini's "Barber of Seville Overture" to punctuate the closing moments of each act is masterful. Clever and innovative in its photography with outstanding performances by Henry Morgan and Leo Gorcey. The rest of the cast certainly holds its own in this lunatic story about a family's visit to New York City. This should definitely be released on DVD. It was shown on television years ago, but seems to have vanished from the airwaves. Definitely worth watching – if it ever reappears.