- Clyde Fitch's three-act drama, subtitled "A Modern Play of American Life," opened on 21 December 1909 at the Lyric Theatre for 190 performances. By the standards of its time, Fitch's play was bold in its realism, focusing on the impact of big city life on those unprepared for its temptations. Fitch died prior to the play's much anticipated opening and The City aroused controversy both in New York and on tour (and near pandemonium on opening night), in part because the drug-addicted character Hannock (played by Tully Marshall) calls another character a "God damn liar."The action involves Rand, a respected small-town businessman mixed up in a few shady deals, who confesses to his son George that Hannock is Rand's illegitimate son. Rand dies, and his son George confronts Hannock with the truth, a shocking bit of news compounded by the fact that Hannock has secretly wed George's sister Cicely. Distraught that he has married his half-sister, Hannock shoots Cicely and attempts suicide. George prevents this, but Hannock blackmails George in an attempt to ruin his budding political career with public revelations of family secrets. George foils Hannock by withdrawing from politics and confessing the truth to his fiancée, heiress Eleanor Vorhees, even though he fears the revelation will end their relationship. Eleanor, impressed by George's integrity, reaffirms her love for him. Regarded as Fitch's finest play, The City was made into motion pictures in 1916 and 1926.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.
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