The House On 56Th Street

  • 1933
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

It isn't easy to cram almost 30 years of people's lives into 70 minutes, but this adaptation of Joseph Santley's novel almost does. Francis is a New York chorus girl in the early 1900s. She is in love with wealthy Raymond, and he with her, but she has also been seeing Halliday, an equally rich but aged stagedoor Johnny. She leaves Halliday for Raymond,...read more

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It isn't easy to cram almost 30 years of people's lives into 70 minutes, but this adaptation of Joseph Santley's novel almost does. Francis is a New York chorus girl in the early 1900s. She is in love with wealthy Raymond, and he with her, but she has also been seeing Halliday, an equally

rich but aged stagedoor Johnny. She leaves Halliday for Raymond, who takes her to his home on 56th Street, a gorgeous town house just off Park Avenue. They are married, she has a daughter, and life is wonderful. Halliday comes back into the picture and threatens to commit suicide if she doesn't

leave Raymond and her child and return to him. She goes to his apartment to attempt to convince him that she is a happily married woman, and when he pulls out his gun to shoot himself, she grabs for it. The result is that he dies and she is sent to prison for manslaughter for two decades. Raymond

believes in her innocence all the time but he is killed during The World War I in France. She's in her forties when she gets out of jail in 1925 and immediately attempts to see her now-grown daughter, but Raymond's family won't allow it and gives her some money to keep her away. Francis is

bewildered by all the alterations in the quality of life in the once-genteel New York she knew. The city is now the center of The Roaring Twenties. She takes an ocean voyage and encounters Cortez, a professional card cheater. They team up and are soon bilking rich people around the world. Francis'

father had been a cardsharp and she inherited his love for the pasteboards. Cortez tells Francis that he's invested their money in a speakeasy on 56th Street and they have the gambling concession. When she arrives at the street, she sees it is the house where she once lived so happily and that the

interior still contains many of the original decorations, including a Florentine medallion on the fireplace that her late husband assured her would be the symbol of their love that would last forever. One night, Lindsay arrives. She is Francis' daughter and must have also inherited a wild streak

since she is a fierce gambler. She loses a lot of money, and when she can't pay, Cortez threatens to tell her fiance and her family about her gambling. A fight between Lindsay and Cortez ensues and she shoots him. Francis tries to take the blame for the murder but that's seen through immediately

by Boyd, who runs the establishment. He says he'll cover up the killing if she will agree to stay at the gambling house and work for him forever. She walks to the fireplace, looks at the medallion and softly says "forever" as the picture ends. This almost seemed like three different stories; the

happy love affair between Francis and Raymond; the early fling with Halliday and the final one with Cortez. It was too much story in not enough time and could have used some fleshing out of the characters. But there have been many plays and films about what happens in one house over a long period,

and this is better than most of them.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: It isn't easy to cram almost 30 years of people's lives into 70 minutes, but this adaptation of Joseph Santley's novel almost does. Francis is a New York chorus girl in the early 1900s. She is in love with wealthy Raymond, and he with her, but she has also… (more)

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