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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>
For James Cagney's second costume picture and first in a 19th century setting, Warner Brothers took him to San Francisco's Barbary Coast for the Frisco Kid. Cagney's first costume role was in the all star production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Unfortunately in production values it was lost in the acclaim for the more expensive Sam Goldwyn production The Barbary Coast. Personally though I think this film is better.
Cagney is fresh off a sealing ship in for his first visit to San Francisco and nearly gets shanghaied for another long voyage. Kindly Jewish tailor George E. Stone rescues him and when Cagney kills Fred Kohler, the man who is in charge of the San Francisco shanghai racket, in a bar room brawl he gains a certain celebrity status.
But no matter how far he rises in power on the Barbary Coast, Cagney can't get the woman of his dreams, society gal Margaret Lindsay. And the battle lines are getting drawn in San Francisco, isolated as it is from the rest of America pre-occupied with slavery and the Civil War.
Director Lloyd Bacon had a sure feel for the mood and look of Gold Rush San Francisco. Besides those mentioned, you'll see some good performances from Donald Woods, Lili Damita, Barton MacLane, and most of all Ricardo Cortez. His death scene and attitude towards the vigilante mob is may be the highlight of the film.
Warner Brothers more than most of the other major studios liked to recycle plots and situations. I think if one watches Frisco Kid, one will see elements of The Oklahoma Kid and The Roaring Twenties.
And those are two pretty good Cagney films also.
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