Knickerbocker Holiday (1944)

 

 

 

Director:     Harry Joe Brown.

Starring:     Nelson Eddy (Brom Broeck), Charles Coburn (Peter Stuyvesant), Constance Dowling (Tina Tienhoven), Ernest Cossart (Tienhoven), Shelley Winters (Ulda Tienhoven), Johnnie Davis (Tenpin), Percy Kilbride (Schermerhorn), Otto Kruger (Roosevelt), Fritz Feld (Poffenburgh), Richard Hale (Tammany), Carmen Amaya (Gypsy Dancer).

1650 dictatorial Governor "Peg-Leg" Stuyvesant in future New York City has outspoken newspaperman arrested

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

Little old New York 1547, when it was ruled by the Dutch and called New Amsterdam for short.  The new governor of Amsterdam arrives today.  The Dutch are all talking about the arrival of the new governor. 

Peter Stuyvesant is still on the ship coming into today's New York Harbor.  The new governor has a silver peg leg for his right leg. 

The city council is meeting.  Council leader Tienhoven says that Peter Stuyvesant is a very firm man with the people.  That's why he sent for him.  Another man, Roosevelt, asks:  "To do your dirty work?"  The other man answers, "Just so", but then he says "no".  The new governor will hang anyone who deserves to hang, such as Brom Broeck.  That man is dangerous because he thinks, and he gets other men to think too.  The critic asks what crime has Broeck committed to justify hanging him?  The man who wants Broeck tells the sheriff Schermerhorn to come over and give the names of some of the crimes that are punishable by hanging.  Schermehorn says:  "Taking people's money; selling firearms to the Indians; selling liquor to the Indians.

Some men on the street just outside the council's window burst out with hearty laughs over something that has appeared in the paper.  The hanging man tells the men in the street to get away from the council's meeting.  Then he gets a paper to see what the men are laughing about.  

Tienhove says Broeck has done it this time, for he has called the council a bunch of scoundrels and thieves.  The suggestion is that they hang Broeck. The dissident in the group says they have never hanged anyone, so why start now?  So Tienhoven says they will have Schermerhorn put Broeck in the stocks. 

Broeck is working on his "Weekly Gazette".  Someone says the council is going to be mad about what they are publishing, but Broeck says he doesn't care what the councilmen think.  He only cares about what the new governor has to say. 

Broeck's girlfriend, Tina Tienhoven, comes to tell Broeck something.   She says her father and Schermerhorn are coming to arrest Broeck.  Tina is a bit upset that Broeck doesn't seem concerned.  And, that reminds her, it's been two years they have been together, and everyone expects them to get married.  She starts crying and Broeck asks her please don't cry.  So Broeck softens and says he will be anything Tina wants him to be and he will marry her.  They hug and kiss. 

Tienhoven and Schermerhorn come to arrest Broeck.  The councilor wonders what Tina is doing here with Broeck.  He orders Schermerhorn to arrest Broeck.  Tina pleads with her father, but he only says he knows it's unfair, but it's legal.  Schermerhorn with some help arrests Broeck.  Tina tells worker Tenpin to bring some barrels of ale and Broeck's supporters to the print shop. 

Peter Stuyvesant arrives.  The Council of Wives greets him and then the Council greets him.  He sees Tina and likes what he sees.  Tina offers to take the Governor on a tour of their city.

Meanwhile, Broeck's supporters have turned out in heavy numbers.  They crowd around the stocks in which Broeck has to stay for awhile.  The huge barrel of ale helps make the get-together a party. 

The Governor sees the big crowd around Broeck and he wants to know what's going on.  Tina tells him, but then her father tries to stop the Governor from reading the text in the paper that got Broeck placed in the stocks.  The Governor reads the gist of the article and then he asks the head of the Council why does he insist on making Broeck a hero?   "When you make a martyr out of a nuisance, you make him a hero."  He orders the release of Brom Broeck. 

Broeck is released.  The Council members now huddle together and worry that they are not going to be able to control the Governor.  Meanwhile, Stuyvesant tells the people that if there has been corruption for personal gain, the parties involved will be hanged.

Broeck thanks the Governor for releasing him.  Now the Governor asks if Broeck would be his Secretary of Printing.  Tina is thrilled by the idea.  Broeck thanks the Governor again.  He tells Tina to come with him because they have a  lot of work to do.

Broeck is very happy with the Governor and the money he is getting for publishing government documents.  The Council, however, is not pleased with the Governor because he has taken over all the jobs they used to do.  The Governor, instead of giving them something to do, gives them medals for good services done for the town.  Roosevelt refuses to take a medal.  The Governor asks him:  "You don't like me, do you?"  Roosevelt answers:  "No."  The Governor asks him what kind of people does Roosevelt like?  Roosevelt replies:  "People of integrity." 

Tienhoven complains to the Governor that Broeck keeps chasing after his daughter and won't stop.  And now with the money Broeck gets for being Secretary of Printing, he can afford to marry Tina.  The Governor says he will stop Broeck from chasing after Tina, because the Governor himself intends to chase after Tina. 

Broeck comes in to see the Governor.  The Governor plans to get rid of Broeck by making the printer his personal emissary to the colonies.  He will be sending Broeck to the other colonies, while he tries to court Tina. Broeck says he won't say anything about his position, except to Tina, but Stuyvesant says that no one else at all can know about Broeck's attempts to unite the colonies in common actions, such as defense.  That, of course, will lead to great unhappiness between Tina and Brom.

While Broeck is hard at work, the Governor wines and dines Tina.  She goes for a lot of carriage rides with the Governor.

Broeck speaks so highly of the Governor without really knowing much about the man or his policies and behaviors.  He tells high officials from other colonies that Stuyvesant is a man of great integrity.  Stuyvesant is a man every can trust. 

Broeck comes back home filled with enthusiasm for the progress he has made with the other colonies.  And he can't wait to see Tina. 

Broeck sees Tina in a carriage with the Governor.  He rushes out to see Tina, but the Governor just runs him down without stopping.  And now Broeck is told everywhere he goes that Tina is now with the Governor.  And Broeck doesn't get invited to any of the parties that Stuyvesant and Tina go to.

One night Broeck invites himself to a party.  The Governor and Tienhoven are not happy about that.  Tina tries to go over to greet Broeck, but Stuyvesant interferes by presenting her with a surprise.  A male and female gypsy dance a Flamenco dance.  As soon as the dance ends, Tina tries to go to Broeck, but Stuyvesant grabs her and says to the audience that now they shall dance. 

Broeck joins in the dance and when partners change, he grabs Tina and takes her outside.  Now they both spout out with their grievances against each other.  Both people feel ill-used by the other. 

A horn is blown.  Brom and Tina turn to see what's going on.  Papa Tienhoven announces the engagement of his daughter Tina to the Governor Peter Stuyvesant.  Both Brom and Tina are shocked and surprised by the announcement.  Tina and Brom go behind a tree and talk about what just happened.  He says Tina encouraged Stuyvesant too much and she says she did not.  She also says she knew nothing about any engagement.  Brom says that's hard for him to believe.  They go back and forth until Tina says she would never marry Brom. 

But in the end, the couple comes up with a plan.  Brom will stay in hiding for a while.  He tells Tina to keep the wolves at bay.  She promises to stay true to Brom.  Two guards come looking for Brom, so Brom quickly kisses Tina and then runs off.  An Indian friendly to Brom trips the two guards as they run to catch Brom. 

Papa comes out with Stuyvesant to scold Tina for her behavior.  But Tina tells the Governor that she was kissing Brom.  She thinks this will discourage Stuyvesant, but he seems even more interested in marrying her. 

Tienhoven tells the Governor that Tina refuses to marry Stuyvesant.  The problem, once again, is Brom Broeck.  She loves the man.  The Governor tells Tienhoven that he is the father and he should control his daughter, but Tienhoven is skeptical if he can do that.  So the Governor bribes Tienhoven.  He tells him that from now on the sales of firearms and alcohol to the Indians will be completely controlled by the government.  Tienhoven says but that's illegal.  The Governor says they can change the law.  And if Tienhoven monitors the sales, he can have 10% percent of the profit.  The two people drink together to seal the deal. 

Broeck decides to set up his printing press in the jail because he figures that's the last place the officials would look for him.  Schermerhorn sees them and goes to tell the Governor, but the friendly Indian has also seen Schermerhorn, and he fires an arrow into a post just missing the sheriff's head.  Now Schermerhorn is taken into the jail to share some liquor with the print guys.  They get him drunk. 

Now Broeck's newspaper calls Stuyvesant a tyrant and a dictator.  The Governor is furious about the charges.  A messenger comes in to say that representatives from the colonies are coming to New Amsterdam for a big conference.  Tienhoven tells the Governor that they can use the money of the other colonies to defend all the colonies for themselves.  Stuyvesant likes that and now offers Tienhoven 20% percent of the profit for the firearms and liquor trade.  In addition, Stuyvesant is going to give out a reward for anyone providing them with information about the whereabouts of Brom Broeck. 

Brom and Tenpin wear disguises and wait under Tina's window.  Meanwhile, Tina gives the little black boy some money to go to the fair, while she shines up the Governor's silver peg leg for the boy.  What Tina does is drop the silver leg down to Brom, who catches it. 

Schermerhorn, probably enticed by the reward money, tells Stuyvesant about the printing press being in the jail.  But Brom is not in the jail now.  He's out and about. 

The Governor tells the sheriff to get everyone in the town gathered together because today he is marrying Tina Tienhoven. 

Broeck puts himself in the stocks to attract the people to him.  He tells the big crowd that he put himself in the stocks.  And he takes himself out of the unlocked stocks. He sings a song about it's one's right to stand up for themselves against corruption and other injustices.  When the guards come to stop Brom, the crowd keeps them out.  Then the crowd tears down the stocks and the gallows.  Tina tells Brom that the crowd is getting out of control.  Broeck says that Stuyvesant is the one man who can control the crowd.  He's going up to see the Governor and he personally is going to reform Stuyvesant.  Tienhoven, now a changed man, probably because of the crowd threat, stands up to the Governor.  Stuyvesant says he will have Tienhoven hanged, but Broeck says the people won't let the Governor hang anyone.  But Brom could get the crowd to hang the Governor, because they trust Brom. 

Brom goes out to talk to the crowd.  He says both the people and he himself have misjudged the Governor.  He has a rough exterior, but his heart is good.  He now calls for a few words from the Governor. The Governor goes out to the people and they call for a speech from him.  The Governor says the right things and the people like it. They are happier now and Stuyvesant likes the adulation a lot.  Everyone is happy now and Brom and Tina kiss passionately. 

 

This is romantic musical comedy set in an historical context:  the New Amsterdam colony that later became New York City.  I laughed on several occasions and smiled in humor with some of the jokes in the comedy.  The music and singing was pretty good.  I especially enjoyed seeing the two scenes of Flamenco dancing in the movie.   Nelson Eddy (as Brom Broeck) and Constance Dowling (as Tina Tienhoven) were both good singers.  The quality of the VHS tape was not that great, but I still enjoyed the story.  And it was good to have an historical movie set in early New York.  There's some history, but not a great deal.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

1612  --  Stuyvesant born in Peperga, Friesland in the Netherlands, to minister Balthazar Johannes Stuyvesant and Margaretha Hardenstein.

He grew up in Scherpenzeel. He studied languages and philosophy in Franeker.

1635 --  he joined the West India Company.

1642-1644  --he was director of the Dutch West India Company's colony of Curašao.

1644  -- he attacked the Spanish-held island of Saint Martin and lost the lower part of his right leg to a cannonball.  He wore a peg leg of wood.

1645  --  Stuyvesant selected by the Dutch West India Company to replace Willem Kieft as Director-General of the New Netherland colony.

1645  --  he married Judith Bayard who had nursed him. 

1674 (May 11)  --  he arrived in New Amsterdam.

1649 (September)  --  he appointed an advisory council of nine men as representatives of the colonists In New Amsterdam. 

1653  --  a convention of two deputies from each village in New Netherland demanded reforms.  Stuyvesant commanded the assembly to disperse.

1655  -- he sailed into the Delaware River with a fleet of seven vessels and about 700 men and took possession of the colony of New Sweden, which was renamed "New Amstel."

1664 --  Richard Nicolls for England seizes the Dutch colony.

1665  --Stuyvesant goes back to report to the Netherlands and then came back to the colony and lived on his farm. 

1672  --  death of Stuyvesant,.

 

 

 

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