- Tales of Manhattan
Infobox Film | name = Tales of Manhattan
caption = Tales of Manhattan VHS cover
Boris Morros Sam Spiegel
Charles Boyer Rita Hayworth Ginger Rogers Henry Fonda Charles Laughton Edward G. Robinson Ethel Waters Paul Robeson W. C. Fields
Twentieth Century Fox
5 August1942 (U.S. release)
runtime = 118 min /127 min (restored version)
language = English
imdb_id = 0035415
"Tales of Manhattan" is a 1942
black-and-white anthology filmdirected by Julien Duvivier.Thirteen writers, including Ben Hecht, Alan Campbell, Ferenc Molnár, Samuel Hoffenstein, and Donald Ogden Stewartworked on the six stories in this film.
The stories follow a black formal tailcoat that appears to be cursed.The first story is a love triangle between
Charles Boyer, Thomas Mitchell, and Rita Hayworth. Boyer plays an actor who gives his finest performance when he's shot while wearing the jacket.
The second tale is a comic story featuring
Ginger Rogerswho finds a romantic love letter in her future husband's jacket (the cursed jacket). The jacket was sold to him at a discount. Her boyfriend ( Cesar Romero) enlists his best man ( Henry Fonda) to help bail him out. Things don't go as suspected when Rogers becomes attracted to Fonda.
The third tale stars
Charles Laughton. He plays a poor but brilliant musician whose one big chance at fame and recognition is in jeopardy because of his wearing of the cursed tuxedo. While he attempts to conduct the small jacket rips and the audience erupts with laughter.
The fourth story stars
Edward G. Robinsonas an alcoholic bum who takes a last shot at life by attending his 25th college reunion. The lawyer wears the jacket and cleans himself up in an attempt to convince his former classmates that he is successful.
The fifth story stars
W.C. Fields. This sequence was cut when the film was released to reduce running time. It was the easiest tale to cut without losing continuity, and ironically it was by far the funniest. Phil Silversand Margaret Dumontalso appear. Some sources indicate the "running time" was a convenient excuse; others among the cast were not too crazy about the Fields sequence stealing more than its fair share of thunder. The cut sequence has since been restored, though it is apparently incomplete. Publicity stills indicate a "set up" scene wherein Fields is talking to Dumont (prior to getting the suit from Silvers' store), who is seated in the back of her limo. This evidently led to the lecture later at her home, and explained his need for the tux; the sequence picks up as the limo speeds off, with no rationale now for what follows. The ending is seemingly also truncated; how does the tux get back to Silvers' store in order for it to be stolen? This sequence was discovered in the Fox vaults in the mid-1990's seemingly intact and used in a special spotlighting cut sequences from the studio's films. It was later included as a supplement on the VHS release of the film, but not restored to its proper place in the film.
The final story emphasizes the second notion about the cursed jacket that what is bad for one person may be good for another. A thief steals the coat from a second-hand store and then commits a robbery at a fancy ball. When he attempts to escape by plane, the jacket and the money fall out . A poor African-American couple (
Paul Robesonand Ethel Waters) in a deep South shanty community finds the jacket along with the over $40,000. They take it to their minister (Eddie Anderson) who gives out the "money from heaven" to people so that they can buy what they prayed for. After distributing the cash, the minister asks loner Christopher (George Reed) what his wish was. He says he prayed for a scarecrow for the fields. They take the now practically shredded jacket and make a scarecrow out of it. This section of the film, which featured what were considered crude black stereotypes even in 1942, came under severe criticism from both Edward G. Robinson, and especially, Paul Robeson, a champion of good film roles for blacks. Robeson was so incensed that he vowed never again to act in a Hollywood film. The sequence was, in the past, sometimes cut from television showings, giving the film a very abrupt ending.
Charles Boyeras Paul Orman
Rita Hayworthas Ethel Halloway
Ginger Rogersas Diane
Henry Fondaas George
Charles Laughtonas Charles Smith
Edward G. Robinsonas Avery 'Larry' L. Browne
Paul Robesonas Luke
Ethel Watersas Esther
Eddie Andersonas Rev. Lazarus
* Thomas Mitchell as John Halloway
Eugene Palletteas Luther
Cesar Romeroas Harry Wilson
Gail Patrickas Ellen
Roland Youngas Edgar
Marion Martinas Squirrel
Elsa Lanchesteras Elsa Smith
Victor Francenas Arturo Bellini
* George Sanders as Williams
James Gleasonas 'Father' Joe
Harry Davenportas Prof. Lyons
J. Carrol Naishas Costello
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