Lights of Old Broadway (1925)

77 mins | Romance | October 1925

Director:

Monta Bell

Cinematographer:

Ira Morgan

Production Company:

Cosmopolitan Productions
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HISTORY

The 7 March 1925 Moving Picture World announced that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M) had purchased film rights to the successful 1924 Broadway play, Merry Wives of Gotham, written by Laurence Eyre. According to the 8 March 1925 Film Daily, M-G-M was set to co-produce the picture with Cosmopolitan Productions, owned by William Randolph Hearst, as a vehicle for Hearst’s paramour, Marion Davies. As part of the deal, Davies would receive a percentage of the film’s profits, as well as her salary, and distribution would be handled by M-G-M. The 28 March 1925 Exhibitors Trade Review reported that Davies was to be paid a $10,000 per week salary by M-G-M to star in two pictures, including The Merry Wives of Gotham.
       Production was initially scheduled to begin in late May 1925 at the M-G-M studios in Culver City, CA, according to the 9 May 1925 Moving Picture World. Noting a title change to Lights of Old New York, the 6 June 1925 Motion Picture News announced that principal photography would begin within the next few days. However, on 13 June 1925, Exhibitors Trade Review indicated that director Monta Bell was still casting the picture. Two small roles were given to teenage sisters Lenore and Virginia Bushman, daughters of actor Francis X. Bushman, according to the 8 August 1925 Moving Picture World. Margaret Reid, a background actress who wrote of her experience on the set in the October 1925 Picture-Play Magazine, claimed that a theater scene shot “in ‘technicolor’” required carefully colored costumes and stage makeup. Reid named others involved ...

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The 7 March 1925 Moving Picture World announced that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M) had purchased film rights to the successful 1924 Broadway play, Merry Wives of Gotham, written by Laurence Eyre. According to the 8 March 1925 Film Daily, M-G-M was set to co-produce the picture with Cosmopolitan Productions, owned by William Randolph Hearst, as a vehicle for Hearst’s paramour, Marion Davies. As part of the deal, Davies would receive a percentage of the film’s profits, as well as her salary, and distribution would be handled by M-G-M. The 28 March 1925 Exhibitors Trade Review reported that Davies was to be paid a $10,000 per week salary by M-G-M to star in two pictures, including The Merry Wives of Gotham.
       Production was initially scheduled to begin in late May 1925 at the M-G-M studios in Culver City, CA, according to the 9 May 1925 Moving Picture World. Noting a title change to Lights of Old New York, the 6 June 1925 Motion Picture News announced that principal photography would begin within the next few days. However, on 13 June 1925, Exhibitors Trade Review indicated that director Monta Bell was still casting the picture. Two small roles were given to teenage sisters Lenore and Virginia Bushman, daughters of actor Francis X. Bushman, according to the 8 August 1925 Moving Picture World. Margaret Reid, a background actress who wrote of her experience on the set in the October 1925 Picture-Play Magazine, claimed that a theater scene shot “in ‘technicolor’” required carefully colored costumes and stage makeup. Reid named others involved in the project: Harry Crocker, a “millionaire extra”; Crete Sipple, a former circus woman turned stand-in; and M.K. Wilson, assistant to Monta Bell.
       The 18 July 1925 Motion Picture News listed a final title change to Lights of Old Broadway. The following month, an item in the 26 August 1925 Variety reported that William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies had been unhappy with “the rapidity of the making” of the picture, shot over the course of four weeks; in response, M-G-M had ordered fifty retakes to be made to their satisfaction by Marshall Neilan. Following the conclusion of filming, Joseph W. Farnham was brought on to write titles, according to a 24 October 1925 Exhibitors Herald brief.
       The world premiere was scheduled to take place on 31 October 1925 at the Loew’s State Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, as announced in the 17 October 1925 Motion Picture News. However, items in the 18 October and 19 October 1925 Los Angeles Times stated that the film opened that week at Loew’s State. The 24 October 1925 Exhibitors Trade Review stated that a New York City premiere was slated to take place on 1 November 1925. A review in the 4 November 1925 Variety deemed the film “a corking picture,” and the 8 November 1925 FD review called it “delightful,” “first rate,” and a “charming romantic story.”
       Lights of Old Broadway was fully restored by Film Foundation, an organization founded in 1990 by director Martin Scorsese. It was screened at the 24th San Francisco Silent Film Festival on 4 May 2019.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Exhibitors Trade Review
28 Mar 1925
p. 24
Exhibitors Trade Review
13 Jun 1925
p. 34
Film Daily
8 Mar 1925
p. 1
Film Daily
8 Nov 1925
p. 4
Motion Picture Magazine
Jun 1925
p. 100
Motion Picture News
23 May 1925
p. 2527
Motion Picture News
6 Jun 1925
p. 2763
Motion Picture News
4 Jul 1925
---
Motion Picture News
18 Jul 1925
p. 297
Motion Picture News
17 Oct 1925
p. 1801
Motion Picture News
14 Nov 1925
p. 2357
Moving Picture World
7 Mar 1925
p. 87
Moving Picture World
9 May 1925
p. 190
Moving Picture World
18 Jul 1925
p. 347
Moving Picture World
8 Aug 1925
p. 654
Moving Picture World
29 Aug 1925
p. 938
New York Times
2 Nov 1925
p. 20
Picture-Play Magazine
October 1925
pp. 62-64, 96
Variety
26 Aug 1925
p. 61
Variety
4 Nov 1925
p. 42
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Lights of Old New York
Merry Wives of Gotham
The Merry Wives of Gotham
Release Date:
October 1925
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: week of 18 Oct 1925; New York opening: 1 Nov 1925
Production Date:
ca. Jun--Jul 1925
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
5 November 1925
LP22049
Physical Properties:
Silent
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
77
Length(in feet):
6,437 , 6,595
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Fely and Anne are twins orphaned when their mother dies en route from Ireland to America. Fely is adopted by the O'Tandys, who live in New York's Shantytown, and Anne is adopted by the wealthy De Rhondos. Fely grows up without knowing her sister and becomes a dancer in Tony Pastor's theater. Dirk De Rhondo, Anne's stepbrother, is attracted to Fely, and after protecting her during the great Orangemen's riot falls in love with her. She consents to his proposal but later retracts when Dirk's father dispossesses her family. Fely's father, however, becomes wealthy when his investment in Edison's incandescent light pays off, but Dirk's father is ruined. Fely saves De Rhondo's bank from a run by making a large deposit, thus winning over Dirk's family and paving the way for their ...

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Fely and Anne are twins orphaned when their mother dies en route from Ireland to America. Fely is adopted by the O'Tandys, who live in New York's Shantytown, and Anne is adopted by the wealthy De Rhondos. Fely grows up without knowing her sister and becomes a dancer in Tony Pastor's theater. Dirk De Rhondo, Anne's stepbrother, is attracted to Fely, and after protecting her during the great Orangemen's riot falls in love with her. She consents to his proposal but later retracts when Dirk's father dispossesses her family. Fely's father, however, becomes wealthy when his investment in Edison's incandescent light pays off, but Dirk's father is ruined. Fely saves De Rhondo's bank from a run by making a large deposit, thus winning over Dirk's family and paving the way for their marriage.

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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.