AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Romance in Manhattan
Director: Stephen Roberts (Dir)
Release Date:   11 Jan 1935
Production Date:   14 Sep--19 Oct 1934
Duration (in mins):   75 or 78
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Francis Lederer (Karel Novak)  
    Ginger Rogers (Sylvia Dennis)  
    Arthur Hohl (Halsey J. Pander)  
    Jimmy Butler (Frank Dennis)  
    J. Farrell MacDonald (Officer Murphy)  
    Helen Ware (Miss Anthrop)  
    Eily Malyon (Miss Evans)  
    Lillian Harmer (Landlady)  
    Donald Meek (The minister)  
    Sidney Toler (Police sergeant)  
    Oscar Apfel (The judge)  
    Reginald Barlow (Chief customs inspector)  
    Guinn Williams    
    Harold Goodwin    
    Spencer Charters    

Summary: When Czechoslovakian immigrant and would-be farmer Karel Novak arrives at Ellis Island, he discovers that the entrance fee has been raised to $200, $142 more than he has in his wallet. Hauled back to the steamship for deportation, Karel jumps overboard and swims ashore but loses his money on the dock. Penniless, he wanders the Manhattan streets until he meets Sylvia Dennis, a pretty nineteen-year-old chorus girl who catches him stealing doughnuts from the rehearsal hall. Sylvia takes Karel to her apartment and introduces him to her young brother Frank, whom she cares for and supports. After selling newspapers with Frank, Karel, who sleeps on Sylvia's rooftop each night, gets a job as a cab driver and dreams of becoming a millionaire so that he can marry Sylvia. When Frank is caught for truancy, the presiding judge orders him to live at the Benton Institution until the now unemployed Sylvia gets married. Desperate to help Sylvia but worried about his illegal alien status, Karel contacts Halsey J. Pander, a crooked lawyer who secretly reports him to the authorities for money. On the day that Frank is taken away, Karel is picked up and sent to the police station with Sylvia. Although Pander insists that Karel be deported, Murphy, a sympathetic policeman, rallies his fellow officers to thwart the shyster and make Karel a citizen and Sylvia's husband before the morning deadline. 

Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Production Text: A Pandro S. Berman Production
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Stephen Roberts (Dir)
  Dewey Starkey (Asst dir)
Writer: Jane Murfin (Scr)
  Edward Kaufman (Scr)
  Norman Krasna (Story)
  Don Hartman (Story)
  Norman Krasna (Contr to scr)
Photography: Nick Musuraca (Photog)
Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase (Art dir)
  Charles Kirk (Art dir)
Film Editor: Jack Hively (Ed)
Music: Al Colombo (Mus dir)
Sound: John Tribby (Rec)
Special Effects: Vernon Walker (Photog eff)
Production Misc: Elizabeth McGaffey (Research)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. 11/1/1935 dd/mm/yyyy LP5255

PCA NO: 389
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Photophone System

 
Genre: Comedy-drama
 
Subjects (Major): Czechoslovakian Americans
  Chorus girls
  Citizenship
  Immigrants
  New York City
  Poverty
 
Subjects (Minor): Brothers and sisters
  Finance--Personal
  Judges
  Lawyers
  Marriage
  News vendors
  Orphans
  Police
  Steamboats

Note: According to the SAB , the script of this film was developed from an original idea "proposed" by Don Hartman and a "screen story" by Norman Krasna. A plot synopsis in MPH 's "In the Cutting Room" differs considerably from the actual screen story. In the pre-release synopsis, the Francis Lederer character is a young Balkan shepherd who, after being fleeced of his money by a crook selling sheep in Central Park, becomes a star singing waiter, marries a girl from the country, loses her, then gets her back the American way, through divorce. According to a HR news item, director Stephen Roberts replaced Sidney Lanfield, who had been replaced on the 1933 RKO film Melody Cruise by Mark Sandrich, who was originally slated to direct this production. The NYT review mentions the use of the Dunning process of rear projection in this film. Modern sources credit Mel Berns with makeup and John Miehle as still photographer and add the following additional cast members: Christian Rub ( Immigrant ), Frank Sheridan ( Customs inspector ), Irving Bacon ( Counterman ), Andy Clyde ( Scottish liquor store owner ). 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   13 Sep 34   p. 1.
Daily Variety   19 Oct 34   p. 3.
Daily Variety   5 Nov 34   p. 3.
Film Daily   21 Nov 34   p. 11.
HF   22 Sep 34   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Jun 33   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Jul 33   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Nov 34   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald   13 Oct 34   pp. 45-46.
Motion Picture Herald   1 Dec 34   pp. 38-39.
New York Times   18 Jan 35   p. 29.
Variety   22 Jan 35   p. 14.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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