I watched "Child of Manhattan" yesterday. I had never heard of it until I saw the December programme for the Portuguese Cinematheque. Even the fact that it's based on a Preston Sturges' play wasn't enough. Since I am here for the holidays, of course I went to see it. I was pleasantly surprised. The more old films I see the more I am convinced that deep down in the archives lie some hidden gems. This is one of them.
This is a charming pre-code where a millionaire falls in love with a dancer and makes her his lover. When she gets pregnant he decides to secretly marry her. It's all about being a nice person and doing the right thing, and how two rights might almost do a wrong. If I say more I'll spoil it. Although it doesn't feel like a stage play, it has a coherence that sadly too often seems to be lacking in early 1930s films.
Nancy Carroll is the leading lady, playing it with touching sympathy. Until I saw "Hot Saturday" earlier this year I had never heard of her. Now I would like to see more of her films. The leading man was not as inspired, but I can live with that, especially as I could believe the two characters loved each other. Jane Darwell as the girl's mother in a couple of scenes and Jessie Ralph as her friend steal the show and got my biggest laughs.