Manhattan Tower (1932, Frank R. Strayer)

Manhattan Tower opens with the Empire State Building and closes with it. I’m not entirely sure they ever call it by name in the film but it’s not supposed to be “real,” I don’t think. Tower‘s Empire State is a world onto itself, so much so, it’s a shock people leave it to go home at the end of the picture.

The film takes place in a day, the morning accounting–roughly–for the first half.

Strayer–Tower‘s easily the best film I’ve seen of his–and screenwriter Norman Houston keep a rapid pace. When it’s introducing characters and situations (there’s a lot of drama on this particular day), Houston always introduces at least two characters and some problem they’re having. The film doesn’t leave anything unresolved and the amount they do resolve–in the last eight minutes or so–is incredible.

The film does have a villain, which makes things a little easier to solve, and Clay Clement is fantastic in the role. In a lot of ways, it’s the least flashy role in the film, because he’s just a sleazebag. The film’s constantly revealing his further lack of character.

Mary Brian’s kind of the lead, giving the best “star” performance in the film. James Hall’s good too, but he’s mostly around just for scenes with Brian.

Hale Hamilton is unexpectedly (his role, at the start, doesn’t seem big) great, turning in the film’s second best performance. All the acting’s good, but Nydia Westman too deserves some singling out.

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