Little Old New York (1940)

94, 99 or 100 mins | Drama | 9 February 1940

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was In Old New York . According to materials contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, Darryl Zanuck originally wanted Henry Fonda to play the role of "Charles Brownne." Zanuck insisted that the film begin with Robert Fulton arriving in New York rather than with his boyhood as had been previously proposed. Zanuck also suggested that the character of "Brownne" be developed to break up the original love triangle between "Fulton," "Pat" and "Harriet." Fox story materials further disclose that Ethel Hill worked on a treatment, but her contribution to the final film has not been confirmed. Fox publicity materials contained in the Production Files at the AMPAS Library note that the film originally did not include any songs because Zanuck wanted to emphasize Alice Faye's acting abilities. A song was added however, after Faye's fans complained. The NYT adds that studio mechanics used Fulton's diaries to build a replica of the two-cycle engine and paddle-wheel of the Clermont . According to a news item in HR , Fox built three huge sailing ships and 25 smaller boats for this production. Another news item in HR adds that cameraman Edward Snyder filmed background shots in New York. Fox borrowed Andy Devine from Universal for this film. In 1923, Goldwyn-Cosmopolitan produced a film based on Fulton's life, also titled Little Old New York , starring Marion Davies and directed by Sidney Olcott (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; ... More Less

The working title of this film was In Old New York . According to materials contained in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, Darryl Zanuck originally wanted Henry Fonda to play the role of "Charles Brownne." Zanuck insisted that the film begin with Robert Fulton arriving in New York rather than with his boyhood as had been previously proposed. Zanuck also suggested that the character of "Brownne" be developed to break up the original love triangle between "Fulton," "Pat" and "Harriet." Fox story materials further disclose that Ethel Hill worked on a treatment, but her contribution to the final film has not been confirmed. Fox publicity materials contained in the Production Files at the AMPAS Library note that the film originally did not include any songs because Zanuck wanted to emphasize Alice Faye's acting abilities. A song was added however, after Faye's fans complained. The NYT adds that studio mechanics used Fulton's diaries to build a replica of the two-cycle engine and paddle-wheel of the Clermont . According to a news item in HR , Fox built three huge sailing ships and 25 smaller boats for this production. Another news item in HR adds that cameraman Edward Snyder filmed background shots in New York. Fox borrowed Andy Devine from Universal for this film. In 1923, Goldwyn-Cosmopolitan produced a film based on Fulton's life, also titled Little Old New York , starring Marion Davies and directed by Sidney Olcott (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30 ; F2.3126). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
1 Feb 40
p. 3.
Film Daily
5 Feb 40
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 39
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 39
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Sep 39
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 40
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
2 Feb 40
pp. 1-2.
Motion Picture Herald
10 Feb 40
p. 36.
New York Times
3 Feb 40
p. 9.
New York Times
19 May 1940.
---
Variety
7 Feb 40
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Darryl F. Zanuck's production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Background photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
Marine art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Little Old New York by Rida Johnson Young (New York, 8 Sep 1920).
SONGS
"Who Is the Beau of the Belle of New York?" words and music by Mack Gordon.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
In Old New York
Release Date:
9 February 1940
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 3 February 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
9 February 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9694
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
94, 99 or 100
Length(in feet):
9,000
Country:
United States
PCA No:
5788
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In New York in 1807, the courtly Robert Fulton, newly arrived from England and proudly bearing his model for a revolutionary new steam boat, stops at a waterfront tavern owned by the blustery yet fanciful Pat O'Day. There, Robert is assaulted by Regan, a bullying ship yard owner, and when Regan's employee, Charles Brownne, refuses to join the brawl, Regan fires him. After licking Regan, Robert hires Charlie to build the hull for his new boat. When his financial backer, Robert Livingstone, withdraws his funding, Robert is about to give up his dream until Livingstone's niece Harriet, who is in love with Robert, convinces her uncle to refinance the boat. As the boat nears completion, Regan incites his men to destroy the vessel. Undaunted, Harriet and Pat, who is also in love with Robert, set about raising money for a new hull. Another obstacle in Robert's path appears when Jefferson's embargo threatens delivery of his engine, but under cover of fog, Robert and his men steal the engine from the embargoed ship's hold. More problems arise when Pat's feelings for Robert cause friction between him and Charlie, but Robert ends the rivalry by declaring his love for Harriet. With all impediments removed, Robert's ship, the Clermont , begins to navigate under its own steam, astounding skeptics and revolutionizing river ... +


In New York in 1807, the courtly Robert Fulton, newly arrived from England and proudly bearing his model for a revolutionary new steam boat, stops at a waterfront tavern owned by the blustery yet fanciful Pat O'Day. There, Robert is assaulted by Regan, a bullying ship yard owner, and when Regan's employee, Charles Brownne, refuses to join the brawl, Regan fires him. After licking Regan, Robert hires Charlie to build the hull for his new boat. When his financial backer, Robert Livingstone, withdraws his funding, Robert is about to give up his dream until Livingstone's niece Harriet, who is in love with Robert, convinces her uncle to refinance the boat. As the boat nears completion, Regan incites his men to destroy the vessel. Undaunted, Harriet and Pat, who is also in love with Robert, set about raising money for a new hull. Another obstacle in Robert's path appears when Jefferson's embargo threatens delivery of his engine, but under cover of fog, Robert and his men steal the engine from the embargoed ship's hold. More problems arise when Pat's feelings for Robert cause friction between him and Charlie, but Robert ends the rivalry by declaring his love for Harriet. With all impediments removed, Robert's ship, the Clermont , begins to navigate under its own steam, astounding skeptics and revolutionizing river travel. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.