Movie Mirrors Index

Romance In Manhattan

(1935 b 77')

En: 5 Ed: 5

An illegal Czech immigrant is helped by a chorus girl and her younger brother; they fall in love, and a policeman helps them get married.

Czech immigrant Karel Novak (Francis Lederer) arrives in New York with $58; but now he must have $200 or be sent back. Novak escapes from the ship and is rescued by dock workers; but he lost his money. He wanders the streets in awe and eats food left by chorus girls. Sylvia Dennis (Ginger Rogers) questions him. He refuses money but wants a job. Two women suggest an institution for Sylvia's brother Frank (Jimmy Butler), because he missed two days of school. Sylvia says no. Sylvia gives Karel blankets to sleep on the roof, and she explains about the Depression. Frank shares his job selling newspapers with Karel and takes over after school. Karel does not admit he was fished out of the river and so does not get his $58 back. He asks the policeman Murphy (J. Farrell MacDonald) if someone could get in trouble for helping someone if they didn't know he was an illegal alien.

Karel shows Sylvia his taxi; but she says her show closed. He is glad to be the head of the house for his friend. Karel comes home early because of a strike and helps Sylvia with the washing. She hopes to marry a rich man; but he kisses her. The two women ask the landlady if Novak is living in Sylvia's apartment. Sylvia goes to court for Frank. The judge (Oscar Apfel) says she is 19 and asks about Novak, who explains the situation is innocent. The judge says Sylvia must give up Frank to an institution until she is married.

Frank packs; Karel walks out, and Sylvia cries. Karel goes to Murphy and asks how to get married. Murphy says he only needs $2 and maybe his naturalization papers. So Karel goes to attorney Halsey J. Pander (Arthur Hohl), who asks for $50 and promises to make him a citizen right away. Karel goes back to drive a taxi even though he gets beat up because of the strike. Sylvia tells Karel that she and Frank are leaving. Karel asks her to marry him. Sylvia says no but changes her mind. A man comes to take Frank. Karel tells Sylvia he is in the country illegally but expects to be made a citizen. Karel is arrested, as Pander is turning him in for money. Murphy intervenes, and the police sergeant (Sidney Toler) makes calls to arrange a marriage license and to hire a minister (Donald Meek). Murphy arrests Pander for speeding and calls immigration. Karel is vaccinated at the police station, and he and Sylvia are married.

This story of America as the immigrants' dream shows some of the bureaucratic barriers, although the extraordinary assistance of the police is usually only found in cinematic fantasies like this one.

Copyright © 2000 by Sanderson Beck

Movie Mirrors Index

BECK index