When a movie theater usher is fired, he takes up with criminals and finds himself quite adept at various illegal activities. Eventually though, the police catch up with him, and he runs to hide out in Los Angeles. There he stumbles into the movie business and soon rises to stardom. He has gone straight, but his newfound success arouses the interest of his old criminal associates, who are not above blackmail... Written by
Ken Yousten <email@example.com>
For the scene where Dan Quigley hauls Myra Gale across the apartment floor by her hair, and throws her out the door, James Cagney taught his co-star Mae Clarke an old stage trick. When Cagney grabbed hold of Clarke's hair (holding her by the top of her head), Clarke reached up and grabbed Cagney's wrist with both hands. This put her weight on Cagney's wrist, instead of on her hair. Clarke then held on to Cagney's wrist, screaming as he dragged her across the room. See more »
When Cagney's character asks film reviewer "Mr. Blair" into the men's room at The Cocoanut Grove to "discuss" his latest review, all of the stall doors are closed. After Cagney forces him to eat his review, the third stall door is open (no one enters or exits the room during this scene). See more »
Cagney in many guises, and a fun, layered up romp from poker to the movies
Lady Killer (1933)
I love these multi-part stories, where one set of scenes shifts to a whole new set, and then they eventually intertwine. And I also love movies that show the inside of Hollywood, with actual recreations of movie sets and movie shoots.
Lady Killer has both, and James Cagney, too. It's fast, furious, funny, and shot with a bright, glinting intelligence. Not quite a gangster film, it does have crime and some crooked thugs. And not quite a comedy, it pulls out quite a few laughs, mostly because Cagney is a card. There are two fabulous first ladies (and they naturally must view for our man), Mae Clark and Margaret Lindsay, and a slew of second men who hold up their characters with caricature.
In all, there is no Warner message here, except maybe the virtue can sometimes prevail. It's just a lot of great scenes, witty dialog, and a play of good guys against bad guys. Look for some stunning rain scenes in California (yeah, I know), and for a huge range of interior and exterior set ups, fairly elaborate for Warner Bros. budgets.
For Cagney fans, it's a riot to see him take on, briefly, a series of roles as Indian chief, Italian lover, and prisoner on work detail. The latter, of course, is close to the real roles that made him famous, and his role here is actually a little lighter than that, a bad guy who is all wisecracks and cheerfulness. Look for some insider jokes, like the poster (and mention) of the Edward G. Robinson film, and the movie ushers wearing hats all with the Warner Brothers logo on it.
Great stuff. I loved it even as I knew it wasn't quite a masterpiece. Oh, and the new (2010) Warner DVD is sparkling, a first rate print!
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