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City for Conquest (1940)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Music  |  21 September 1940 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 1,525 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 16 critic

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 »


, (uncredited)


(screen play), (from the novel by)
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Title: City for Conquest (1940)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Craven ...
Scotty MacPherson
Eddie Kenny
Jerome Cowan ...
Lee Patrick ...
Blanche Yurka ...
Mrs. Nash
George Lloyd ...
Thurston Hall ...
Max Leonard


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 Eddie's music composition career, while Peggy goes on to become a professional dancer. When Peggy turns down Danny's marriage proposal for her dancing career, Danny, who wanted to quit the fight game, continues on & is blinded by rosin dust purposely placed on the boxing gloves of his opponent during a fight. His former manager finances a newsstand for the now semi-blind Danny. The movie ends with brother Eddie becoming a successful composer and dedicates a symphony at Carnegie Hall to his brother who listens to the concert on the radio from his newsstand. Peggy, now down on her luck, but in the audience at Carnegie, rushes to Danny at his newsstand where they reunite. The movie is based on a novel of the same name. Written by Bacardi

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A story with all the fire and fury of its two great stars!


Crime | Drama | Music


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 September 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ciudad de conquista  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Turner Library print)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


'Frank Craven''s role as the tramp who guides us through the story is a parody of his performance as the Stage Manager in "Our Town", which he had just filmed prior to this picture. He also created the role on Broadway. See more »


When Googi and cohort drive to dock front to dispose of Dutch's body, the city skyline lights are clearly not on, then light up left to right on the horizon across the river. See more »


'Googi': [His dying words after being shot by a hoodlum he thought was unarmed] Ah gee, never figured on that at all.
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Featured in A Letter to Elia (2010) See more »


Corn Pickin'
(1938) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played at the Lower East Side dance
See more »

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User Reviews

The power and the curse of dreams
12 November 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

James Cagney, Arthur Kennedy and Ann Sheridan all live in the "City for Conquest" - New York, that is - in this 1940 film directed by Anatole Litvak and also starring Frank McHugh, Donald Crisp, Anthony Quinn and

  • yes, Elia Kazan.

Cagney and Kennedy are the Kenny Brothers, Danny and Eddie. Danny is a truck driver in love with Peg, his childhood sweetheart. He has two dreams - Peg and his brother's composing career. When he's discovered by a fight manager (Crisp), Danny becomes a fighter for the money. The ambitious Peg has her eyes on fame and fortune and pairs up with a brutish but equally ambitious dancer, played with force by Anthony Quinn. Eddie, meanwhile, is discovered not for his magnificent composition "City for Conquest" but for his Broadway musical capabilities.

When he realizes he's losing Peg, Danny, who is being brought up gradually into the bigger fights, demands to go for a big purse that will give him the championship - and, he thinks, Peg. Thanks to a crooked mobster, the fight nearly destroys Danny and he has to give up fighting. Down but not out, he insists that Eddie still pursue his dream of a classical career.

This is a good movie that tugs at the heartstrings, very melodramatic, with excellent acting all around. Cagney is wonderful and sympathetic as a simple, loving man who takes what life gives him; Crisp gives a fine performance as his caring fight manager. Ann Sheridan, always an earthier, tougher version of Rita Hayworth, is marvelous as a young woman who, though she loves Danny, can't fight the lure of the glamor and fame offered by her dance partnership. Kazan, in a small role as a gangster, is great, though his contributions as a director are far more valuable than what he might have given film history as an actor.

The standout for me was one of the most brilliant and underrated actors of our time, Arthur Kennedy. Kennedy enjoyed a wonderful career in film and on stage in a variety of roles, but because he wasn't a true leading man and not a Warners "tough guy" like Cagney, Robinson, or Bogart who could graduate into lead roles, he toiled as a supporting actor, earning no less than 5 Oscar nominations. Here he is young and good-looking, and his performance is passionate without being maudlin. Surely there wasn't a dry eye in any movie house after the speech he gives about his brother the night his symphony (very much modeled on "Rhapsody in Blue") debuts. Truly a great treasure, and he was discovered by James Cagney, who knew talent when he saw it.

A heartfelt movie, and you'll need that box of tissues nearby. See it and celebrate the good old days of the rough streets of New York and movies about the common man and dreams coming true.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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