Famous motor-racing champion Joe Greer returns to his hometown to compete in a local race. He discovers his younger brother has aspirations to become a racing champion and during the race ... See full summary »
Lou Ricarno is a smart guy. His plan is to organize the various gangs in Chicago so that the mugs will not liquidate each other. WIth the success of his leadership, Louie prospers, marries ... See full summary »
Cagney is Danny Kenny, a truck driver who enters "the fight game" and Sheridan plays his girlfriend, Peggy. Danny realizes success in the ring and uses his income to pay for his brother ... See full summary »
Bijou, a saloon singer with a reputation for inciting brouhahas, is one of several deportees from a south Pacific island to arrive at another U.S. protectorate, Boni Komba. She becomes very... See full summary »
Popular New York band leader Terry Rooney (Cagney) is offered a lucrative film contract out in Hollywood. Rooney and his wife pack up and head for California. Upon arriving, they meet Mr. Regan, the head of the studio, who believes that Rooney's true lack of desire for stardom is arrogance on the band leaders part. When his first film is huge success and hit for the studio, Regan tries to hide the truth from Rooney. Feeling a need to get away from Hollywood, Rooney takes his wife on a South Seas cruise, only to return to the real truth of his fame. Written by
Grand National Pictures head Edward L. Alperson had previously paid $25,000 for the rights to the perfect James Cagney vehicle, "Angels with Dirty Faces", and was literally begged by staff producer Edward Finney to film that property first. Inexplicably, Alperson went ahead with this film, a pet project of director Victor Schertzinger, which went way over schedule and budget, and flopped big time. Its failure broke the fledgling Grand National studio, which despite its profitable Tex Ritter series of low-budget westerns, went into bankruptcy in early 1940. See more »
Rita is in New York when she reads of Terry's supposed relationship with Steffie on the front page of the "Express" newspaper. Meanwhile in Hollywood, Terry learns of the false rumours in exactly the same way, from the exact front page of an identical "Express" newspaper. Props used the same newspaper for both coasts. Highly unlikely. See more »
The plot of this film is fairly ordinary--bandleader/hoofer goes to Hollywood and becomes a star, studio wants to play up his credentials as a lover so they put the kibosh on announcing his marriage and cook up an on-set romance for the papers, the strain threatens his marriage. If it were with any other cast, that might have been the end of it. But with Cagney in the starring role, the movie just pops. The man had star quality positively oozing out of him, which had been evident from his earliest bit roles, in films like "A Handful of Clouds."
This was Cagney's second and last film with Grand National studios, where he'd taken refuge during a contract dispute with Warner Brothers. The first film had cast him in standard dramatic fare, but this one reunited him with his NY dance coach, Harland Dixon, who staged the dances for the film. Cagney's dancing is even more spirited than in "Yankee Doodle Dandy"--at one point, where other dancers might kick their heels, he kicks his knees! According to a NY Times article cited in the AFI Catalog, Cagney practiced his steps with Fred Astaire before filming.
What's most striking to me, though, in this film is Cagney's incomparably naturalistic acting. One scene in particular, where Cagney phones his fiancée back in New York while sitting in the dark in his Hollywood apartment, and listens to her sing a new song, is as moving and realistic as anything I've seen.
Many scenes will evoke more famous moments from later films--Cagney dancing on piano keys, like Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia in "Big," or Cagney working on his pear-shaped tones, like Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain." Cagney gives them all his unique brand of liveliness. There is also an almost anachronistic recognition of the degradation Hollywood visited on minorities, in the person of Philip Ahn, who plays Cagney's manservant, Ito.
Evelyn Daw, as Cagney's fiancée, was a discovery of the director, Schertzinger, and this was her first film. She's got a cute little smile, but her voice is absolutely wrong for the sort of band Cagney is supposed to be leading. She does well enough, though, and holds her own with William Frawley as Cagney's sympathetic press agent and Gene Lockhart as the studio boss. The only real sour note is sounded by Mona Barrie, as the Hungarian star set up as Cagney's love interest by the studio press machine. She's neither attractive nor talented, and one has to wonder why she was supposed to be such a big star.
This movie is out on DVD, unlike all too many of Cagney's early efforts, and it's worth checking out for a side of Cagney seen entirely too seldom.
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