Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957)

103 mins | Drama | November 1957

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Man Who Rocked the Boat . The opening credits begin with the following written statement: “The picture you are about to see is based on fact, but to insure the safety of people still alive, certain modifications have been made.” As depicted in the film, William J. Keating (b. 1915) was an assistant district attorney whose single-minded determination and courage led to the conviction of many racketeers on the New York City waterfront. Keating went into private practice soon after writing his autobiography, The Man Who Rocked the Boat , which Universal purchased in 1956. The following year, the studio bought Richard Rodgers’ song “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue,” which had been written for the 1936 Broadway play On Your Toes .
       Universal borrowed director of photography Fred Jackman from Columbia for this film. Although studio press announced that Hedy Lamarr would make an uncredited appearance in the picture during the scene at the modeling agency of "Dee Pauly," she did not appear in the finished film. According to studio materials, some scenes were shot on location in New York, and others at the Bethlehem Steel Co. shipyards in Long Beach, CA.
       HR news items add the following members to the cast: Myron Cook, George Becwar, Jack LaRue, Morgan Woodward, Julian Upton, William Vaughan, Joe Greenway, Tom Greenway, Eileen Harley, David Sharpe, Boyd Morgan , Len Lesser, Joe Marr and Kay Reid. Their appearance in the final film has not been ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Man Who Rocked the Boat . The opening credits begin with the following written statement: “The picture you are about to see is based on fact, but to insure the safety of people still alive, certain modifications have been made.” As depicted in the film, William J. Keating (b. 1915) was an assistant district attorney whose single-minded determination and courage led to the conviction of many racketeers on the New York City waterfront. Keating went into private practice soon after writing his autobiography, The Man Who Rocked the Boat , which Universal purchased in 1956. The following year, the studio bought Richard Rodgers’ song “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue,” which had been written for the 1936 Broadway play On Your Toes .
       Universal borrowed director of photography Fred Jackman from Columbia for this film. Although studio press announced that Hedy Lamarr would make an uncredited appearance in the picture during the scene at the modeling agency of "Dee Pauly," she did not appear in the finished film. According to studio materials, some scenes were shot on location in New York, and others at the Bethlehem Steel Co. shipyards in Long Beach, CA.
       HR news items add the following members to the cast: Myron Cook, George Becwar, Jack LaRue, Morgan Woodward, Julian Upton, William Vaughan, Joe Greenway, Tom Greenway, Eileen Harley, David Sharpe, Boyd Morgan , Len Lesser, Joe Marr and Kay Reid. Their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
28 Sep 1957.
---
Daily Variety
19 Apr 1956.
---
Daily Variety
17 Sep 57
p. 3.
Film Daily
17 Sep 57
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Oct 1956
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 1956
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Apr 1957
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Apr 1957.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Apr 1957
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 1957
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 1957
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 1957
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
6 May 1957.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 1957
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
16 May 1957
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 1957
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 57
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 1957
p. 5.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
21 Sep 57
p. 537.
New York Times
6 Nov 57
p. 43.
Variety
18 Sep 57
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Cam op
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
Ward
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Unit pub
Scr supv
Coordinator
Dial coach
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book The Man Who Rocked the Boat by William J. Keating and Richard Carter (New York, 1957).
MUSIC
"Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" by Richard Rodgers.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Man Who Rocked the Boat
Release Date:
November 1957
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 5 November 1957
Production Date:
mid April--mid May 1957
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
10 September 1957
Copyright Number:
LP9224
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
103
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18613
SYNOPSIS

Solly Pitts, the honest hiring boss for the New York City longshoremen, is brutally shot on his stairwell by racketeering union boss Eddie “Cockeye” Cook and his thugs, Tilly Moore and Leo Shaker. District Attorney Howard Rysdale reluctantly assigns the case to inexperienced assistant William Keating, warning him that the wharf has a long and complex history. Solly is alive but weak, and police lieutenant Anthony Vosnick brings Bill to the hospital to question him. There, Solly’s wife Madge, who trusts Vosnick, admits that her husband named his attackers, but Solly, hoping to protect Madge, refuses to speak to the authorities. Vosnick explains to Bill that Solly runs the only lawful area of the pier, and that Cockeye’s superior, Al Dahlke, plans to run him out of town. After failing to get any more information out of Madge, Bill heads to the docks, where the men refuse to talk to him. After drunken longshoreman Midget rails loudly against the racket, Bill watches helplessly as Dahlke sets his henchmen after him. Bill follows Midget to his home, where the broken man, who assumes Bill is on Dahlke’s payroll, bitterly asks him where the police were when the racketeers moved in. Later at the police station, Vosnick explains that Midget once spoke out against the crooks, but after they broke his back, he lost his job and later his wife and children. Although Cockeye presents his falsified alibi for the day of the attack, Bill holds him in jail, but realizes that Solly and Madge’s testimony represent his only hope for an indictment. While looking at an apartment with his fiancée, Dee Pauly, Bill recalls his coal miner father taking ... +


Solly Pitts, the honest hiring boss for the New York City longshoremen, is brutally shot on his stairwell by racketeering union boss Eddie “Cockeye” Cook and his thugs, Tilly Moore and Leo Shaker. District Attorney Howard Rysdale reluctantly assigns the case to inexperienced assistant William Keating, warning him that the wharf has a long and complex history. Solly is alive but weak, and police lieutenant Anthony Vosnick brings Bill to the hospital to question him. There, Solly’s wife Madge, who trusts Vosnick, admits that her husband named his attackers, but Solly, hoping to protect Madge, refuses to speak to the authorities. Vosnick explains to Bill that Solly runs the only lawful area of the pier, and that Cockeye’s superior, Al Dahlke, plans to run him out of town. After failing to get any more information out of Madge, Bill heads to the docks, where the men refuse to talk to him. After drunken longshoreman Midget rails loudly against the racket, Bill watches helplessly as Dahlke sets his henchmen after him. Bill follows Midget to his home, where the broken man, who assumes Bill is on Dahlke’s payroll, bitterly asks him where the police were when the racketeers moved in. Later at the police station, Vosnick explains that Midget once spoke out against the crooks, but after they broke his back, he lost his job and later his wife and children. Although Cockeye presents his falsified alibi for the day of the attack, Bill holds him in jail, but realizes that Solly and Madge’s testimony represent his only hope for an indictment. While looking at an apartment with his fiancée, Dee Pauly, Bill recalls his coal miner father taking him to a union meeting and keeping order with his fists, and Dee counsels him to use his head rather than his brawn. They are interrupted by ex-policeman Sid Wallace, now a private investigator, who invites them to dinner in Chinatown. At the restaurant, Sid introduces Dahlke as “a friend,” after which Dahlke offers his underworld connections to Bill in exchange for letting Cockeye go free. Bill spurns him, prompting Dahlke to make vague threats. Bill goes to Rysdale to push for quick action, knowing that the longshoremen will support the law once they believe it is on their side, but the district attorney cautions him to move slowly and remember that everyone has an angle. The next day, a prisoner named “Monk” Mohler claims that Cockeye offered him money to provide a false alibi. Bill is excited by the breakthrough until Rysdale reveals that Monk merely wants to trade this information for a lightened sentence, and is not a credible witness. With only hours left before he must release Cockeye for lack of evidence, Solly decides to testify against Cockeye, and Bill goes to the hospital to record the dying man’s statement. The police bring Cockeye there for Solly to identify, but Cockeye attacks the ill man, who later regrets that he is dying “a rat.” While Cockeye hires expert attorney John Jacob Masters, Bill and Rysdale review the case, which relies exclusively on Solly and Madge’s testimony. Bill and Rysdale then go to Madge’s apartment and there badger her to test the strength of her conviction, and although she holds up under the pressure, she later receives phone threats that unsettle her. Soon after, Bill and Dee are married, and one of the telegrams they receive at the reception includes another death threat. That night, the hospital calls Madge to inform her that Solly is dying, but she is so afraid to answer the phone that she misses the call. At Solly’s wake, his best friend, Benjy Karp, confesses to Bill that he saw Moore running from Solly’s apartment building the day of the shooting. Bill attends a meeting of the district attorney office, and when the group votes to postpone the trial until they have more evidence, Bill heatedly accuses Rysdale of possible collusion, and insists they take the matter to the mayor. The mayor roundly chastises Bill, who storms out of the meeting. Bill is telling the story to Dee that night when Rysdale informs him that the mayor agreed with Bill’s assessment of the case, and wants Bill to prosecute it himself. At the trial, Masters impugns each witness, painting Benjy as a liar and Solly as uncredible, causing Benjy to lose the little faith he had gained in the legal system. When Bill calls Madge to the stand, she cannot be found. Three days later, Bill finds Benjy at the wharf preparing for an illegal strike against Dahlke. Although Benjy will not back down, he reveals that Madge is in Brooklyn, and Bill convinces her to return to the city under his care. Back at the trial, Masters attacks Madge’s character, then points out that Bill held Cockeye under false pretenses, and finally accuses Vosnick of setting up Cockeye. In their closing arguments, Masters presses the issue of reasonable doubt, while Bill emphasizes the facts in the case and the courage of the witnesses. The jury remains in deliberation for hours, during which Bill learns that Benjy’s men have begun their strike. He rushes to the pier, where Dahlke has arrived with trucks full of thugs, and when Bill punches Dahlke, a riot breaks out. When the police arrive and arrest the group, Vosnick and Rysdale pull Bill out of the melee and into the waiting arms of Dee. Midget staggers out of the crowd into the liquor store, where he hears a radio announcement that Cockeye, Moore and Shaker have been convicted, in one of the first victories of its kind in the city waterfront. Tottering into the street in delight, Midget finds Bill’s abandoned briefcase, and picks it up reverently. +

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

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