Little Old New York

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Little Old New York
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Henry King
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Written by Play:
Rida Johnson Young
John L. Balderston
Harry Tugend
Starring Alice Faye
Fred MacMurray
Richard Greene
Music by Alfred Newman
Cinematography Leon Shamroy
Edited by Barbara McLean
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
February 3, 1940
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget over $2 million[1]

Little Old New York is a 1940 20th Century Fox black-and-white historical drama produced by Darryl F. Zanuck and directed by Henry King. The film stars Alice Faye, Fred MacMurray, and Richard Greene, and is based on the play by Rida Johnson Young, which opened on September 8, 1920 and starred Genevieve Tobin, Douglas Wood, and Donald Meek.

The film tells the story of the hardships and politics of Robert Fulton's building the first successful steam-powered ship in America, which would then go on to revolutionize river and ocean transportation around the world.


In this fictionalized account of the invention of the first successful steamboat, Clermont, engineer and inventor Robert Fulton (Richard Greene) comes to New York in 1807, where he meets tavern keeper Pat O'Day (Alice Faye). O'Day strongly supports Fulton and his visionary steamship, but her suitor Charles Browne (Fred MacMurray) isn't happy about her association with the dapper engineer, or his invention. With O'Day's help, Fulton obtains the financing needed to build his revolutionary paddle steamer, while Browne manages to turn every local deck hand and sail-powered passenger boat operator against the engineer, exploiting their fear of losing their livelihoods to a steam-powered vessel. In the end, against adversity and opposition, Fulton finally builds his Clermont and launches the steamboat to great success, silencing his critics and the doubters who had previously labeled his venture "Fulton's Folly."



This is one of Faye's few non-musical features, and her fans complained about her not singing in it while the film was still in production, so a song was later included; Faye's participation in the added song was minimal.[citation needed]

Both a 12-foot shooting miniature and a full size mock-up of Clermont were built in Hollywood for the Fox production. Both were based on plans of an original full-sized 1909 Clermont reproduction that had been broken up for scrap in New York by her owners several years before, as a result of financial hardships brought on by the Great Depression.

North River Steamboat is the actual name of the historic steamboat upon which this film is based; the vessel was never known as Clermont in its era.[2]

Little Old New York is a sound remake of the original film, first made during the silent era in 1923. Under the same title, the 1923 version was directed by Sidney Olcott and starred Marion Davies, Stephen Carr, and J. M. Kerrigan.


  • Who Is the Beau of the Belle Of New York
    • Music and Lyrics by Mack Gordon
    • Performed by Tyler Brooke and joined by Alice Faye and other dancing patrons of Krausmeyer's Pavilion
  • Ach Du Lieber Augustine
    • Traditional German folksong
    • Played as dance music at Krausmeyer's Pavilion
  • Du, du liegst mir im Herzen
    • Traditional German folksong
    • Played as dance music at Krausmeyer's Pavilion


  1. ^ 52 FEATURE FILMS ON FOX '39-40 LIST: Five Will Cost $2,000,000 Each--Zanuck to Supervise 24 Large Productions 'THE RAINS CAME' ON BILL 'Drums Along Mohawk,' 'Little Old New York,' 'Brigham Young' Scheduled Edmonds's Story in Color Elsa Maxwell Featured New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 04 Apr 1939: 29.
  2. ^ Arthur G. Adams, The Hudson through the Years. Westwood NJ : Lind Publications, 1983.

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