Joseph Urban and Cosmopolitan Films

Little Old New York

"Little Old New York" was Cosmopolitan Productions Number 43.

Directed by Sidney Olcott, the film was based on a play by Rida Johnson Young, with a scenario by Luther Reed. The costumes were designed by Gretl Urban.

The film is held by the Library of Congress and has been restored and released on DVD.

From the TCM website: Patricia O'Day (Marion Davies) comes to America to claim a fortune left to her brother Patrick, who has died en route. In that circumstance the fortune should revert to the stepson, Larry Delavan (Harrison Ford), but disguised as Patrick, her brother, Patricia gets the inheritance and wins the friendship of Larry Delavan when she assists him in financing Robert Fulton's steamship venture.

Other historic New Yorkers that she encounters include Robert Fulton (Courteney Foote), Wahington Irving Mahlon Hamilton), Cornelius Vanderbilt (Sam Hardy), John Jacob Astor (Andrew Dillon), Ariana De Puyster (Gypsy O'brien), Lorenzo Delmonico (Charles Judels), Betty Schuyler (Mary Kennedy), and the poet Fitz-Greene Halleck (Norval Keedwell). During a riot Patricia reveals her true identity; she and Delavan marry and go to Ireland.

The film had its world premiere on August 1, 1923, at the renamed Cosmopolitan Theater, formerly the Majestic, near Columbia Circle in New York, that had been purchased by Hearst and redesigned and redecorated by Joseph Urban for the occasion. Victor Herbert wrote and conducted the overture for the film.

In addition, the Ziegfeld Follies of 1923 that opened on October 20th, included the scene "Little Old New York" with the "Marion Davies Girls" and the "Marion Davies Boys." The show ran for 233 performances at the New Amsterdam Theater.

Shown here is the set for the Interior of Delmonicos.

Once again Urban assembled Reference Photographs to guide him in creating the sets for these historic settings, located in Joseph Urban Collection, Box C9.

About two-thirds of the film had been shot when, on February 18, 1923, a fire broke out near the main 127th Street Cosmopolitan Studio building. Within hours much of Cosmopolitan Studios had burned or been damaged by water, including sets, properties, costumes, office areas, Davies' in-studio apartment, and Urban's personal reference library.

All of the positive prints had been removed the night before, but about 40 reels of negatives for the film had to be rescued, along with a number of unreleased Cosmopolitan films. Although Hearst had insurance coverage, many irreplacable items were lost including original portrait paintings, antique mantels and furnishings, and chandeliers from Hearst's vast collections.

Shown here is the Landing Place. Hearst had an exact replica of Fulton's Clermont built and staged the famous river race on the Hudson in January.

As pointed out by Richard Koszarski in Hollywood on the Hudson, "It was a convention of the Davies films that excuses should be found to dress Marion in men's clothing as often as possible, and in Little Old New York Davies plays in drag for most of the film."

Koszarski continues: "The film's dramatic highlight occurs when "Patrick" is tied to a pillory and publicly flogged by Louis Wolheim, an angry prize-fighter known as the "Hoboken Terror." An attraction develops between Davies and her cousin (played by the very busy New York actor Harrison Ford), and the film has a lot of fun with Ford's efforts to overcome his feelings for his handsome young ward."

Shown here is the scene when Marion Davies rings the Fire House bell to stop the prize fight, incurring the wrath of the "Hoboken Terror."

Also shown here is the set for the Interior of the Fire House where the fight takes place.

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