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Manhattan Melodrama
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by Greg Muskewitz

"Hardly melodramatic, but hardly about Manhattan, either."
5 stars

Supposing the “melodrama” was specifically in reference to the disconnected love triangle formed between two childhood orphans grown up and the damsel with higher aspirations, it maintains a maturity and sophistication that the term’s current use has been reduced to by tar-and-feathering it to such unctuous platitudes.

(Even modern movies set in the past, e.g. Pearl Harbor, evoke the basest connotation of hyperbole, triangle or not.) But the complication and conflict of the film doesn’t remain centered on the love triangle, nor does it settle there for long. Rather, the friends have arrived at the destinations their child counterparts exposited: one’s gaming activities against the law, and the other’s studious nature leading to a career in law. And despite their moral predispositions, it never occurs to either that it should place limits on their friendship. Only when one comes under criticism and possible career distortion from his relationship to the other, does the wayward man employ his disregard for the law in his friend’s name. As an examination between the dissenting paths two people from the same societal handicap can take, and further be complicated through an ignorance to status and choice, the outcome and its arrival is less melodramatic in the build up and execution than it is branded by the fact that it is such a public affair popularized to the degree it ends on. Quickly outpacing the disaster and juvenile elements in which the film begins in, it is arguably a very adult film with a credibly thorough exploration of those decisions that become “every day” based upon the lifestyle of the decision-maker. One of the few issues and disappointments rising not from the theatrical treatment or lack thereof, is the noticeable absence of Manhattan’s impression and bearing on the proceedings. Directed by W.S. Van Dyke and George Cukor. With Clark Gable, William Powell, Myrna Loy, Mickey Rooney, and Jimmy Butler.

[Absolutely to be seen.]

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originally posted: 12/24/03 11:52:37
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