It's the early days of the F.B.I. - federal agents working for the Department of Justice. Though they've got limited powers - they don't carry weapons and have to get local police approval ...
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Edward G. Robinson,
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It's the early days of the F.B.I. - federal agents working for the Department of Justice. Though they've got limited powers - they don't carry weapons and have to get local police approval for arrests - that doesn't stop fresh Law School grad Eddie Buchanan from joining up, and he encourages his former roommate James "Brick" Davis (James Cagney) to do so as well. But Davis wants to be an honest lawyer, not a shyster, despite his ties to mobster boss McKay, and he's intent on doing so, until Buchanan is gunned down trying to arrest career criminal Danny Leggett. Davis soon joins the "G-Men" as they hunt down Leggett (soon-to-be Public Enemy Number One) and his cronies Collins and Durfee, who are engaged in a crime and murder spree from New York to the midwest. Written by
Gary Dickerson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Two of the prominent action scenes in the film were based on real events. The rail station shootout in which gangsters free Danny Leggett,was based upon the famous "Kansas City Massacre" in which gunmen attacked FBI agents and local police as they were transporting federal prisoner Frank "Jelly" Nash on June 17th, 1933. In that incident one FBI agent--who was unarmed, as were all agents at that time--three policemen and Nash himself were killed. As shown in the film, this was the incident that increased the power of the FBI and turned into the agency it is currently. The other incident was the shootout at the lodge. That was based on a battle between FBI agents and a gang that included John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson on April 22, 1934. See more »
When Brick sees Mac on the train in Washington, Mac's arm moves to the back of the seat. See more »
Well, you look like you're not going to New York.
No, I'm not going to New York. I'm gonna keep on pounding the ABC's of crime into the gold-plated skulls of these babes in arms.
[leafing through some applications]
Law school graduate, law school graduate, law school graduate. Listen to this: Mr. James Davis, Doctor of Law, Doctor of Philosophy, Phi Beta Kappa. Now, isn't that sweet! Phi Beta Kappa!
James 'Brick' Davis:
[appearing behind them]
What's yours... 'Flat Foot-a Copp-a'?
Who said that? Who are you?
James 'Brick' Davis:
[...] See more »
Lawyer Brick Davis (James Cagney) is a fresh-out-of-school law graduate with no clients. When his old friend Eddie Buchanan (Regis Toomey) stops in town, he approaches Davis to become a 'G Man' - a member of a newly formed federal force that uses brains combined with brawn to make the perfect law enforcement. Davis isn't interested, but when Buchanan is shot dead by a gang of organised thugs, he joins up instantly, and begins to distance himself with his criminal clients. Upon arrival at the FBI recruitment centre, he knocks heads with his newly-appointed mentor Jeff McCord (Robert Armstrong) who dislikes the amount of law graduates they are getting. When the gang that Davis left behind start to cause mayhem on a federal scale, Davis uses his knowledge and experience to bring the gang to justice.
With all the Pre-Code mayhem that was taking over the cinemas back in the 1930's, people began worrying about the flattering, anti-hero portrayals that the criminal underworld were getting. Films such as the 1932 version of Scarface, and The Public Enemy (also starring Cagney) both showed them in a flattering light, so G-Men wanted to make the law cool again. Cagney's Brick Davis is very much like the villains portrayed in these films - he's ambitious, tough, intelligent - but he's also moral. The criminals, however, are portrayed as pure scum, and (in a quite shocking scene) capable of killing women without thinking twice. More of an FBI propaganda film than a film noir or a crime film, but it's easily watchable. Yet apart from a couple of bloody good shootouts and the odd surprise, the film never really grips and it does lack the usual bite from Cagney.
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