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24 out of 27 people found the following review useful:


Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
28 April 2006

"Ho-nee! " That's crazy Jimmy Cagney calling to his partner Joan Blondell in this wacky early-30s comedy-drama which reminded a bit, attitude-wise, with a film he did the following year called "Lady Killer."

It also was typical Cagney: a very cocky con man (as a bellhop!) and fun-to- watch character who will do and say about anything. The dialog between he and Blondell in this film is a real hoot. It features a lot of the expressions of this time period.

Louis Calhern plays a competing con man who swindles Cagney, but then gets taken himself. A very young Ray Milland, in one of his first credited appearances, is so young I didn't know it was him, but recognized the voice. He looked a lot like Bob Cummings.

Not a great film but entertaining for the part, as Cagney films usually were. Every time he yells "Ho-nee!" I laugh out loud. Ya gotta love him!

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24 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

This is the Age of Chiselry

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
13 June 2005

Bellhop James Cagney and hotel maid Joan Blondell have a lot of ambitions during Depression Era America. They've seen the American dream go belly up on Wall Street, seen lots of people lose everything they have to crooks and chiselers and have decided if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. And Cagney has entitled what he considers the Depression to be, the age of chiselry.

These two are obviously so suited for each other. But for what each considers practical reasons they hook up with other people. Cagney hero worships noted confidence man Louis Calhern and Blondell takes a shine to polished and dapper Ray Milland, a wall street broker. Each becomes quite disillusioned.

This is a good piece of historic Americana, depression era. People like Cagney and Blondell lost a lot of ideals in that period and it rings true even today. Later on Preston Sturges would take some of the same themes in Blonde Crazy and use them in a more comedic way. But this film is still pretty good on its own merits.

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22 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

If you don't want to get slapped, don't mess with Joan

Author: Ted-101 from New York
9 February 2001

How would you like to go to a hotel and find out James Cagney is the #1 bell-hop, and Joan Blondell is your blond chamber-maid? That's where we start in "Blonde Crazy", and things get wild in a hurry. Cagney plays con-man Bert Harris, and he falls hard for the new chamber-maid, Ann Roberts, played by Joan Blondell. Peggy, another cute chambermaid, warns Ann to stay away from Bert. Ann says, "He can't be interested in me, I'm not important and I have no money." Peggy shoots back, "Oh yeah ... maybe you've got something else he wants." Bert makes a pass at Ann, and get his face slapped hard. When he next sees her he says, "I'm so stuck on you, I wouldn't mind getting slugged by you every day." Ann says, "Oh yeah," smiles, and hauls off and hits him again. Hold on, she's just warming up. Middle aged Guy Kibbee falls hard for Ann, and asks Bert, "What do you know about the blond chambermaid?" Bert smiles and sells the chump a bottle of booze at triple the price, knowing Kibbee will pay because he's been told, "It's the only stuff the blond chamber-maid drinks." After Ann and Bert rip off Kibbee big time, they head for the city and tangle with super chisler "Dapper Dan Barker", played to the hilt by Louis Calhern. Things get rough, with the con-artists ripping off one another, and thumbing their noses at the sap whose been taken at clean-out time.

The dialogue is outrageous, and Ann wallops Bert a few more times along the way. Blondell slaps Cagney when he's bad, and slaps him when he's good, only a little softer then and with a big smile, just to let him know she still loves him. At one point Bert starts to walk in on Ann when she's in the tub. She shrieks and yells, "Hey, what's the big idea? I'm taking a bath." To which he cracks, "Oh yeah ... move over!" This is a great film. The only problem is that the ending is way to somber and dark in comparison to the breezy, good-natured tempo of the rest of the film. But this is one you've got to see. Blondell and Cagney are wonderful together.

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17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

A must-see for Cagney fans

Author: Robert A. Walko from Orlando, Florida
1 July 1999

This is the kind of film the Hays Office was established to prevent. Jimmy Cagney as a charming, likable con man. Adorable Joan Blondell in the bathtub. Glamourization of (still illegal) alcohol. Fraud, theft and assault all served up cool and bubbly as champagne. I loved it! If you ever wondered why Cagney became such a big star, just watch him in this early effort. He was truly one of the most magnetic personalities of early Hollywood. Turner Classic Movies print in pretty good shape, which can't be said of a lot of films of this vintage. Watch, enjoy!

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13 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

"The age of chivalry is over. This is the age of chiselry."

Author: imogensara_smith from New York City
29 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Cagney is more than usually full of beans in this one—and for him that's really saying something. Unable to contain his energy and high spirits, he indulges in outrageous vocal mannerisms and looks half the time like he's on the verge of breaking into dance. Though (alas) he doesn't do any hoofing, he flaunts his amazing control of his body, darting and weaving through the role like a boxer in the ring. He gets to display the versatility of his talents as his character goes from crafty schemer to world-class chump, cynical operator to heart-broken lover. Explosive on screen, off screen Cagney was reported to be introverted, aloof and intense. Even in the midst of a zany performance like this one you can see a kind of quivering stillness at the heart of him.

Joan Blondell was the best love interest Cagney ever had. More than able to stand up to him, she brings out an unexpectedly tender and sexy side of his cocky, wound-up persona. Off-screen they adored each other, though they were never romantically involved, and their mutual fondness is abundantly evident in Blonde Crazy; indeed it's the best reason to watch the film. Blondell, with her appetizing chorus-girl looks, has a warm, open front but an inner reserve and caution. She's a girl who knows how to take care of herself: watch how she handles a lecherous Guy Kibbee, who tries to tempt her with a string of pearls. She breaks the necklace, and when he bends over to pick up the pieces she stuffs a handful of pearls down his pants, wallops him on the backside and scrams! Blondell, Cagney and everyone else involved seem to be having the time of their lives in this movie.

Cagney is Bert Harris, a bell-hop who keeps a scrapbook of successful confidence tricks and dreams of making his fortune as a con artist. Anne Roberts (Blondell) just wants a job as a chambermaid in his hotel, but Bert, who helps her get the job after getting an eyeful of her, talks her into joining forces with him and they set out for the big time. A number of confidence tricks are depicted with loving care, but despite the cleverness of the schemes these scenes are a little tedious. We just want to see more of Anne and Bert bickering. He keeps making passes at her and she keeps turning him down, but neither seems to hold it against the other. I tried to keep count of how many times Blondell slaps Cagney, but I lost track somewhere; in one scene Anne slaps Bert, then Bert's jealous girlfriend Peggy slaps Anne, Anne slaps her back, and finally Peggy slaps Bert for laughing. At another point, Anne gives Bert her brightest smile and says, "I can't go without letting you know how I care for you"—SMACK. But their relationship deepens gradually, and by the time Anne announces that she's going to marry another man, your heart bleeds for Bert, the chiseler with the wandering eye. The final scene of Blonde Crazy is one of the few genuinely romantic moments of Cagney's career, as he gazes up at Blondell with shining, worshipful eyes.

Anne explains that she is marrying her Wall Street fiancé (Ray Milland) because he and his family are "a different kind of people. They care for music and art and that kind of thing." As soon as she says that, we know Milland is bad news; he turns out to be the louse of all time, not only embezzling money from his firm but setting Bert up to take the rap. Bert and Anne's criminal activities are practically virtuous by contrast, since the people they cheat are invariably despicable. Everyone in this movie, as Bert says, "has larceny in his heart." This is a typical Depression-era attitude: the rich and cultured are crooks, and hypocrites too. We're invited to admire the cleverness of "honest" swindlers and to revel in their ill-gotten gains.

But ultimately this isn't a movie about grifters so much as about two people whose hard-boiled, wised-up outlook almost prevents them from admitting their love for each other. They have good reason to be this way; they can't trust anybody. Con artists con fellow con artists, and the respectable turn out to be completely without decency. Life is a continuous game of one-upmanship, a contest to see who can laugh last. Anne and Bert turn out to be the only remotely worthy people in the movie, since at least they care about each other, though they don't understands their real feelings until they're in danger of losing the other. In the end, chivalry makes an unexpected comeback.

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

This movie in freakin awesome!

Author: ( from United States
18 September 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this movie a couple of months ago on Turner Classic Movies. I'm a sophomore in high school, so I wasn't really into the historical value of the film or anything. I just really enjoyed it.

It's basically about this guy(James Cagney), and his chick friend who team up to con people. They're really good at it, but one day they get conned themselves. The plot unravels from there.

The romance is so sweet and sad. They both want each other, but they end up with other people. The characters are well developed and interesting. The acting is wonderful on everyone's part. It's just an all-around great film.

Oh, and did I mention James Cagney is beautiful...

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Blondell Crazy

Author: marcslope from New York, NY
23 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(Possible spoiler) Great fun as long as Joan and Jimmy are flirting and sparring -- she has a great right hook, which she's forced to employ repeatedly, and he has an unusually expressive vocal delivery, including a "HAW-nee" endearment unlike anything he ever attempted again. It's a rock-'em, sock-'em early talkie with the two stars at their most appealing, Cagney so full of energy that he seems to walk an inch or two above the ground. There's plenty of pre-Code intrigue, too, and the casual sexuality is pretty eye-opening for 1931. Blondell is pretty, spirited, and authoritative; like film historian David Thomson said, as far as professionalism goes, it is difficult to overpraise her. Up to the "Sting"-like episodes of the pair fleecing Louis Calhern (looking very dapper in black tie), it's a raunchy treat. But then the plot takes a wayward detour, with Blondell falling into an unhappy marriage with Wall Street crook Ray Milland. (Exactly how this blue-collar honey could charm her way into his high-society family is not clear.) The last 20 minutes or so plod into melodrama, chase, and only semi-happy ending, with the two stars finally in the clinch we knew they'd be in all along. Breezy going for the first two-thirds, though, and even when the narrative veers off, the stars are right on track.

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15 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Positively happy, like a pig in mud.

Author: Svengali-2001 from Australia
22 June 2000

This here flick is a real gas. Crackerjack fun and stands the test of time. Imagine Cagney and Blondell playing off each other these days when the implied is used with a hammer. These guys aim to rattle the teeth with sharpness not sledgehammer subtlety which is all writers can afford these days. The bath tub gag is typical. Swing that door Jimmy boy. The cons are bad as cons go and I bet some artists are still trying them on today just in a more sophisticated way. Nice to see a young Ray Milland before the eyes popped. I wish I had me a dame like Blondell....

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

blondell and cagney together again--hawwney!

Author: jinx_malone from United States
6 May 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

this movie positively crackles with the banter and the chemistry between cutie-pie joan--a woman that i've tried to emulate all my life, as should all good girls--and quick on his feet, handsome jimmy. i love these two as a couple no matter what they're in together and in this film they're particularly good.

the dialogue is the kind that bubbles like good champagne, the gowns are exquisite, and there's even a touch of pathos when you realize that the conman is getting conned himself. towards the end the film takes a somewhat scary turn and i felt myself getting pretty nervous that we weren't going to have a happy ending, but all's well that ends well in the movies, at least in this picture.

a forgotten gem that shines like the diamonds you know bert wants to shower his beloved anne with. watch this one, you'll love every second of it.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Two young stars in a 1931 depression comedy/drama

Author: blanche-2 from United States
5 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

James Cagney is "Blonde Crazy" in this 1931 film also starring Joan Blondell, Louis Calhern, and Ray Milland.

It's worth mentioning Charles Lane, who played the hotel desk clerk at the beginning of the film. Lane died in 2007 at the age of 102 and his last credit was in 2006! Lane is really a piece of Hollywood history, just as the stars of the film were.

Cagney is a hotel bellhop, Bert Harris, who convinces the Kewpie-doll blonde Ann Roberts (Blondell) to join him in his life of crime. The crimes consist of some mighty clever scans to fleece rich people -- and, in one case, getting back at the con man who stole from them. Despite their partnership, neither can admit their feelings for one another. Ann falls for a broker (Ray Milland) and trouble follows.

The two stars are wonderful, so young and energetic. Cagney calls Blondell "Hawn-EEE" which I'm sure he came up by himself. Blondell with her huge eyes is adorable. You really find yourself rooting for the two of them. In an early role, Louis Calhern is smooth as silk, and Milland provides an attractive lure for Ann.

This is a nice piece of Americana. It's 1931 and people are out hustling. Sort of like today. Very enjoyable.

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