Sunday, April 28, 2013

Silent Sundays: Little Old New York (1923)

The story of Little Old New York takes place in the Bowling Green section of the city in the early 1800s. Located in Bowling Green around this time are Washington Irving who is only a fireman at the time, Robert Fulton who is getting ready to build and run his steam powered boats, and banker John Jacob Astor. Fulton asks Astor to back his steamship Clermont but Astor refuses he only backs real estate not something that he feels will most likely fail.
            Astor goes to a house where a man named Richard O’Day had once lived. O’Day has died and Astor is the read his will. Everyone believes that O’Day’s fortune will be left to his step-son Lawrence Delevan. When the will is read the entire room is shock. All of O’Day’s money has been left to his brother’s heir Patrick since his brother helped to get him to America and begin his business. Larry is only given the house and five hundred dollars a month. But Larry could claim the money if his brother’s son cannot be found exactly a year after his death.
            In Ireland, Patrick is sick and is being taken care of by his sister Patricia (Marion Davies) and their father. People surround the house looking for their payment and begin to take furniture out. Another lawyer for O’Day finds Patricia and tells them what has been left to them. The family has two months to make it back to New York to claim the money.
            The day before Larry is to inherit the money he throws a party with his friends at the house. He has promised Fulton that when he comes into his money he will give him ten thousand dollars needed to back his steamship. Larry’s promise is canceled when Patricia and her father appear. Patricia comes into the house dressed as a boy.
            Patricia’s life as a boy called Pat goes fairly well. A group of local boys come and pick on her because of her accent and for being Irish. She cannot fight them off but luckily Larry and her father come running out of the house to save her in time. Larry is curious why she did not fight back since he thinks Pat the Irish boy should have been able to fight off some American boys. Unfortunately her father dies. Larry comes home from a party seeing her crying from the loss of her father. He puts his arm around her and she cries more.
            Larry and Patricia are guests on Fulton’s first ride of his steamship. Astor still refuses to give her the money but she somehow talks other backers into giving Fulton the money. Larry does not want her to have to pay for anything he said he would pay and says he will have the money for his friend in a few days. The way he thinks he is going to get the money is if he bets in a boxing match. Patricia manages to get her way into the fight. She watches from the bottom of a bell tower in a fire station. The fighting is too intense for her because the fighter Larry bet on is losing. She rings the bell making everyone believe there is a fire and the fight stops. Another lady at the fight points out Larry as the culprit until they see Patricia trying to sneak away. Larry rushes her out of the fire station and back to the house. The hundreds of men at the match come racing over to Larry’s house to get him thinking he is a cheat. Patricia confesses she is the one who rang the bell and that Larry is not a cheat. She is carried by a group of men to the middle of the town square where people are put to a post and punished. One of the fighters starts whipping her. She begs and pleads and finally confesses that she is a girl.
            Larry is not mad at Patricia for lying. He tells her it will be easier for him to be the guardian of a girl. The following day Patricia is arrested for impersonating her brother. At court she explains to the court why she pretended to be her brother: Patrick had been sick and weak even before they left Ireland. On the ship he died. Her father made her promise to make Larry and everyone in New York believe she was Patrick. She went along with her father because he needed her to. The men of the jury find her guilty but only give her a fine which they then decide that they will pay.
            Patricia is told by Astor that she has to go to London. Larry does not want her to leave he will be lonely without her. She does not want to leave because she has no family and she will be lonely without him. Larry then asks her to marry him and he will go to London with her.
            Little Old New York was alright. There were several parts that just dragged and were boring. Marion Davies’ performance was very good. She did not overact at all. The story was somewhat interesting. I think it could have been better had there not been parts that were too long. Little Old New York is a silent film I can recommend seeing but to me it is only worth seeing once.

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