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Bat Morgan is nearly shanghaied on his way to the gold fields of California. Instead he kills Shanghai Duck and becomes a hero in San Francisco's Barbary Coast. He winds up the rich owner of a saloon and gambling hall and is nearly lynched for a murder he didn't commit. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It seems odd this drama from Cagney's main star period would be obscure until you watch it.
Cagney is dynamic as ever but those two cinematic black holes Margaret Lindsay and Donald Woods stop the film dead in its tracks whenever they appear in a scene.
Lindsay, who Warners tried their damnedest to make into a star, is stiff and affected in the female lead. Her scenes with Cagney become more an interesting example of star quality and naturalism versus posturing for the camera than believable love scenes. In their close-ups he is animated and alive and she seems to be waiting for him to finish talking so she can flatly deliver her lines.
Woods is even worse but his role is smaller so he is less irksome but when he's not on screen you don't miss him.
As far as the film's storyline it's standard stuff about the clash between the Barbary Coast and Nob Hill society. If you're a Cagney fan it's worth checking out but one viewing will probably be enough.
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