Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Mary Brian in a pensive moment
MANHATTAN TOWER (1932). Director: Frank R. Strayer.

Inside the high stories of the Manhattan Tower the lives of several people begin to intersect. Mary (Mary Brian) and her boyfriend Jimmy (James Hall) are saving up to get married and buy a home in Kew Gardens. Mary is secretary to the lecherous and all around unpleasant Kenneth Burns (Clay Clement), whose wife, Ann (Irene Rich), has finally had enough and wants her freedom to marry lawyer David Witman (Hale Hamilton) -- whose office is also in the Tower. Whitman has a dizzy secretary who unwittingly causes a run on the bank in the building because of something she overhears. Then there's Marge (Noel Francis), another rather sluttish secretary who is not unwelcoming of Burns' oily advances. Mary asks Burns to invest some money for her, which does not sit well with Jimmy. It all culminates in a horrifying confrontation in Burns' office. The film is well-directed and edited and has an interesting cinematic technique in that the camera turns into film strips that go higher or lower depending on which floor the next scene occurs. There's a morally ambiguous ending in which one brash character pretty much gets away with causing another's death. While the victim may not have been an especially nice person, even he didn't deserve the awful fate he endures [and the other characters are much too blase about it all]. The only familiar faces in this are Wade Boteler as Jimmy's boss and Walter Brennan in a small role as Jimmy's stuttering co-worker. [Ironically, Brennan went on to fame while the others were all forgotten.] The film is full of more than competent actors who never achieved any kind of lasting fame. Mary Brian, who started in silents, had quite a few credits both before and after this film. Hall also started in silents; this was his last film credit and he died 8 years later at age 39.

Verdict: Entertaining trifle with some good actors and interesting developments. **1/2.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice posting.. thanks for sharing.