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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 <email@example.com>
"The only thing you'll get for helping others is a kick in the face."
Middling Warner Bros. costumer has James Cagney playing a sailor who narrowly escapes being shanghaied. He gets revenge fairly quickly. Then we have a typical "small-time hood climbs the ranks of the criminal underworld" plot that was used in so many WB gangster pictures, quite a few of which starred Cagney.
Cagney's fine in an unchallenging role. George E. Stone is good as Cagney's Jewish tailor friend. Ricardo Cortez is the criminal saloon owner who gives Cagney his start. Margaret Lindsay is pretty and likable enough in a bland part as the good girl corrupt Cagney wants to go straight for. Her father was a crusading newspaper editor killed for standing up to the bad guys. Like I said, this feels like WB took a script from one of their gangster movies, changed the setting, and passed it off as a period drama. The problem with that is those gangster pictures weren't good because of their formulaic plots. They were good because of the snappy dialogue, fun characters, and urban flavor of the 1930s. That's missing here, which makes for a rather dull movie. The last quarter of the movie, including the lynching stuff, is the most exciting part. The tacked-on happy ending stinks.
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