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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
If taken purely on script alone the film only amounts up to the usual fare we have seen a zillion times over the years. The basic formula being that two brothers are taking different paths in career choices and the elder brother is doing all he can to help realise his younger brothers dream of being a composer, yet thankfully here the film has a great deal more to offer outside of the usual standard fare.
The elder brother boxes to support his younger brothers dream but he's tragically almost blinded in a gruelling 15 round fight where foul cheat tactics are used against him. The film then follows the love interest slant of the family & girlfriend closest to our stricken boxer, but thankfully the film manages to stay clear of drowning in a bowl of sickly syrup. Playing out with a very deep emotional heart the film only functions well because of its lead actor, James Cagney was 42 when he made this film, yet he looks like a lithe athletic man in his twenties such was his commitment to the role. He imbues such gusto into the role of Danny Kenny that he alone demands you watch this film, but he is also staunchly supported by Ann Sheridan,, Arthur Kennedy, and a very brash turn from Anthony Quinn. It's a film that tugs on your heart strings at times, and yes it has the audience begging for an uplift in the final reel, but it's done well and delivers all that you hoped for at the start of the film.
The back story doesn't read so well tho, Cagney & director Anatole Litvak were continually at war during filming, and most of Cagney's input into the film was cut out, Cagney was so annoyed and sad with the final outcome, he wrote to Aben Kandel (the writer of the novel the film is adapted from} and apologised with sincerity, he need not of worried because the final result is very rewarding indeed, 8/10.
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