So This Is New York
|So This Is New York|
|Directed by||Richard Fleischer|
|Produced by||Stanley Kramer|
|Written by||Carl Foreman|
Ring Lardner (novel)
|Narrated by||Henry Morgan|
|Music by||Dimitri Tiomkin|
|Edited by||Walter Thompson|
|Distributed by||Metro-Goldwyn Mayer|
So This Is New York is a 1948 satirical movie comedy starring acerbic radio and television comedian Henry Morgan and directed by Richard Fleischer. The cynically sophisticated screenplay was written by Carl Foreman and Herbert Baker from the 1920 novel The Big Town by Ring Lardner. Foreman was blacklisted soon after.
It remains the only film in which humorist Henry Morgan plays the leading role, and the material was tailored to showcase the cynical persona Morgan had developed for his radio show.
The film was the second feature directed Richard Fleischer (son of Max Fleischer), who had previously directed short subjects for United Artists. Fleischer went on to direct Follow Me Quietly (1948), Armored Car Robbery (1950), and The Narrow Margin (1954). It was also the first film produced by Stanley Kramer.
When Ella Finch and her sister Kate inherit $30,000 each just after the end of World War I, Ella becomes dissatisfied with her dull life in South Bend, Indiana, and with Kate's butcher boyfriend Willis. She is convinced she can rectify both problems by taking Kate to New York City. Her wisecracking cigar salesman husband Ernie is unable to change her mind, so he reluctantly goes along, postponing a promotion at work by claiming to his boss, A. J. Gluskoter, that his wife is sick and needs a stay at a sanitarium. On the train, they meet New Yorker Francis Griffin. Ernie is less impressed with him than his wife and sister-in-law.
In New York, Ella helps Katie try to win over Francis, but it turns out that he is actually infatuated with Ella. She has to punch him to fend off his unexpected advances. Ernie shows up later and knocks him down too.
Ella then rents an apartment. Ella meets their wealthy neighbor, Lucius Trumball, who invites them all over for drinks. Ella is delighted, but Kate is not pleased when she discovers that Trumball is much older than her. Later she finds out he is also married when his wife returns unexpectedly from Timbuktu.
They return to the hotel they stayed at before, where they meet Herbert Daley, who owns race horses. At the track, Daley persuades them to bet on his horse. It wins, but then Daley's jockey, Sid Mercer, shows interest in Kate, much to Daley's annoyance. Kate secretly sees Sid while also going to the track with Daley with Ella and Ernie. Daley returns early from a trip and catches Sid kissing Kate, but Kate assures him there is nothing serious going on, and they become engaged.
A drunk and embittered Sid confides to Ernie that Daley and a gambling syndicate have fixed the next day's race, but he is going to double cross his employer and see to it that a longshot wins instead. Ernie tries to warn Daley, but is brushed off. Ernie is left in a terrible quandary: Should he bet on Daley's horse or the longshot, Honor Bright? When he runs into his boss at the track, Gluskoter fires him for lying, so Ernie bets on Honor Bright. It wins. Kate breaks up with Daley over the money she thought she had lost betting on his horse, and Daley's co-conspirators chase after him.
The trio move to a more economical theatrical hotel. The women are thrilled to meet Ziegfeld Follies star and comedian Jimmy Ralston. They invite him to dinner. He reveals his ambition is to write, produce and star in a serious play. Ralston romances her. When she wants to be in the play, he agrees. She and Ella invest the rest of their inheritance, over Ernie's objections. The play is a flop. Ernie is unconcerned, as he still has the money he won. Then Ella tells him she found his stash and invested it too. Fortunately, Gluskoter offers him back his job, and they all return to South Bend.
- Henry Morgan as Ernie Finch
- Rudy Vallee as Herbert Daley
- Bill Goodwin as Jimmy Ralston
- Hugh Herbert as Lucius Trumball
- Leo Gorcey as Sid Mercer
- Virginia Grey as Ella Goff Finch
- Dona Drake as Kate Goff
- Jerome Cowan as Francis Griffin
- Dave Willock as Willis Gilbey
- Frank Orth as A. J. Gluskoter
- Arnold Stang as Western Union Clerk
- William Bakewell as Hotel Clerk
The film was made on a small budget, "a little more than $600,000 ... cobbled together from several small-time non-Hollywood investors, including a dry goods salesman and a lettuce grower".
So This Is New York was one of the first Hollywood movies to use the technique of freezing action on the screen while the narrator, Henry Morgan, spoke about what the viewer was seeing. One scene has Morgan entering a taxi as a cabbie barks at him in a thick Bronx accent, "Awrite - where to, Mac?" Subtitles appear on the screen translating, "Where may I take you, sir?"
It was a flop when it was first released, but is now "a favorite of many film buffs and critics". When the Tribeca Film Festival decided to include a Stanley Kramer film, noted director Martin Scorsese surprised Kramer's widow by requesting So This Is New York, rather than any of his better known works.
- Kliph Nesteroff (July 22, 2007). "Henry Morgan: Fuck the Sponsor". WFMU's Beware of the Blog. Retrieved October 12, 2013.
- Randy Kennedy (May 4, 2004). "56 Years Late, New York Can Laugh at Its Image". The New York Times.
- Kliph Nesteroff (June 2007). "You Wanna Make A Federal Case Outta It!? The Hilarious Arnold Stang". WFMU's Beware of the Blog. Retrieved October 12, 2013.
- Fleischer, Richard (1993). Just Tell Me When to Cry: A Memoir. Carroll and Graf. p. 35.