Dark Manhattan

16mm motion picture film of Dark Manhattan

Directed by
Fraser, Harry L., American, 1889 - 1974
Subject of
Cooper, Ralph, American, 1908 - 1992
Brooks, Clarence, American, 1896 - 1969
Stewart, Nicodemus, United States, 1910 - 2000
16mm Film (a): acetate film;
16mm Film (b): acetate film;
Film Shipping Container (c): cardboard
Duration: 77 Minutes
Length (Film Reel 1): 1050 Feet
Length (Film Reel 2): 1300 Feet
motion pictures (information artifacts)
Place depicted
Harlem, New York City, New York County, New York, United States, North and Central America
Place filmed
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States, North and Central America
A small time hood becomes the protégé of the biggest mob boss in town. After taking over the criminal operation, trouble ensues as thugs and crooks all fight for control of the Harlem numbers racket.
2015.167.5.1ab: 16mm black and white film.
2015.167.5.1c: Original cardboard film shipping box. No legible inscriptions.
In "Dark Manhattan", a lad who takes control of the policy racket in Harlem, meets a sweet and clean nightclub singer and falls in love with her. Before they can get married, a rival gang tries to muscle into the numbers racket and, at the end, the lad gets shot-gunned and dies in the arms of his girl.
When Larry B. "L. B." Lee, the top numbers banker in Harlem, visits the poolroom of one of his accounts, Jack Jackson, he witnesses James A. "Curly" Thorpe break up a knife fight and, impressed with his performance, asks Curly to join his organization, which he emphasizes does not use underhanded methods. Curly quickly distinguishes himself as tough on district operators, whose business is declining, and grows ambitious in his desire to be the most talked about man in Harlem. He also wants to steal the affections of L. B.'s girl friend, Flo Gray, a radio singer who appears at the Club Congo. After L. B., who has been warned by his doctor to take a rest, has a heart attack while dining with Flo, Curly runs the operation while L. B. recuperates. Curly institutes gangster methods to force smaller operations to pay for protection, and doubles the bank's income, which causes ten days of gang warfare and police raids, culminating in a district attorney's effort to smash the numbers racket. Although Curly and Flo keep newspaper reports away from L. B., the heads of the other numbers banks reveal the situation to him, after which he promises to redistribute the money his bank made. Curly, however, refuses to part with the money made since he took over and prevails upon L. B. to take a trip for his health. After Curly tells the bankers' association that he wants twenty percent from every banker for protection, Butch Williams, a rival who operates at the Club Congo, offers protection for five percent. During a shoot out at the club, Curly is mortally wounded, and he dies in the arms of Flo, who has grown to love him.
AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Accessed August 12, 2016 (http://www.afi.com/members/catalog/DetailView.aspx?s=&Movie=2228)
WorldCat. Accessed August 12, 2016 (http://www.worldcat.org/title/dark-manhattan/oclc/57689321&referer=brief_results)
Consists of: 16mm Flim (a), 16mm Flim (b), and Original Film Shipping Box (c).
African American
Race films
Urban life
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Randall and Sam Nieman
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
Public Domain
See more items in
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Collection title
Nieman Film Collection
Media Arts-Film and Video
Data Source
National Museum of African American History and Culture

NOTE: Cataloging is an ongoing process and we may update this record as we conduct additional research and review. If you have more information about this object, please contact us at NMAAHCDigiTeam@si.edu.