Follow TV Tropes


Film / Sidewalks of New York

Go To

Sidewalks of New York is a 1931 film directed by Jules White and Zion Myers, starring Buster Keaton.

Keaton plays Homer Van Dyne Harmon, a wealthy slumlord who goes to visit his tenements one day and gets caught in an epic donnybrook of a foodfight between rival gangs of juvenile delinquents. When a feisty young woman named Angie (Anita Page) incorrectly thinks that Harmon is beating up her little brother Clipper, she charges out from her tenement and knocks Harmon flat with a right cross to the jaw. Harmon is smitten.

Determined to win Angie's affections, Harmon builds a gym for the local street youths to hang out in, and eventually he coaxes them into using it. However, young Clipper is a wannabe criminal who has entered into a grown-up gang led by a hood named Butch. Clipper's appetite for crime is greatly reduced when Butch gives him a very grown-up job: kill Harmon.


The Duck Season, Rabbit Season routine listed below was later recycled in Three Stooges short "The Three Stooges: Disorder in the Court".

Not to be confused with the Ben Stiller 2001 film of the same name.


  • Brandishment Bluff
  • Big Brother Instinct: Angie dashes out and punches Harmon in the face when she thinks he's roughing up Clipper.
  • Brick Joke: Harmon's chauffeur is knocked out and his car is wrecked when they are caught in the food fight. When he visits next time, he rides in an armored car.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Harmon is struggling to get sworn in court (see Duck Season, Rabbit Season below).
    Judge: He's asking if you swear—
    Harmon: No, but I know all the words.
  • Delinquent: Clipper, an aspiring hoodlum of maybe 12 that gets in a lot deeper than he bargained for.
  • Disguised in Drag: Butch's robbery plan calls for Clipper to be disguised as a woman.
  • Advertisement:
  • Duck Season, Rabbit Season: Harmon has difficulty being sworn in court.
    Prosecutor: Take off your hat. [Harmon does so.] Now Raise your right hand. [Harmon puts his hat back on and does so] Now put your left hand here [he points to the book he's holding. Harmon does puts his cane in his right hand and puts his hand there]
    Judge: Take off your hat. [Harmon does so, putting his right hand down in the process]
    Prosecutor: Raise your right hand.
    [This continues until Harmon puts his hat on his cane (which is still in his right hand) and raises his right hand.]
    Prosecutor: Will you get rid of that hat? [Grabs it off Harmon's cane, only for Harmon to grab it and put it on the Prosecutor's head]
    Harmon: Raise your right hand.
    [Prosecutor does so, but puts it down when he realizes what Harmon just did]
    Prosecutor: Raise your right hand!
  • Food Fight: An epic cyclone of a food fight wrecks Harmon's car and eventually results in the Meet Cute with Angie.
  • Fruit Cart: An unusual example when a fruit cart trundles into the brawl between neighborhood kids, turning the brawl into a massive food fight.
  • Low Clearance: When Harmon starts literally running circles in the boxing ring (It Makes Sense in Context), the boxer knocks Harmon down by sticking out his glove and letting Harmon crash into it.
  • Meet Cute: Angie taking Harmon down with a punch to the jaw during the food fight.
  • Not What I Signed Up For: Clipper realizes that he is in way, way too deep when Butch gives him a gun and makes him start helping out on stickups, while dressed as a woman.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Harmon sees Clipper moving around in a car where he also sees woman's clothing and blonde hair. Harmon thinks Clipper is cavorting with a woman at an inappropriately young age. When they have their conversation, Clipper thinks Harmon knows about the robbery scheme.
    Harmon: That sort of thing could land you in jail.
  • Produce Pelting
  • Promotion to Parent: With the parents nowhere to be seen, Angie is raising Clipper all by herself.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • As they ride into the slums Harmon says "So far, this ride has been very pleasant." This is immediately followed by the first broadside in the food fight that wrecks Harmon's car.
    • After a bonding moment with Angie, Harmon watches her walk away and says "From now on, nothing could hurt me!" This is followed by two girls running with a jump rope who trip Harmon onto his butt.
  • Throwing the Fight: Harmon and Angie come up with a plan to impress the kids by staging a fight with a local boxer that Harmon will win. The plan goes awry when one of Butch's goons bribes the boxer to not throw the fight.
  • The Von Trope Family: A name like Homer Van Dyne Harmon marks Harmon down as an old-school Dutch New York blueblood.