15 user 7 critic

Frisco Kid (1935)

Passed | | Adventure, Romance | 30 November 1935 (USA)
After a roustabout sailer avoids being shanghaied in 1852 San Francisco, his audacity helps him to arise to a position of power in the vice industry of the infamous Barbary Coast.


Lloyd Bacon


Warren Duff (story), Seton I. Miller (story) | 2 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
James Cagney ... Bat Morgan
Margaret Lindsay ... Jean Barrat
Ricardo Cortez ... Paul Morra
Lili Damita ... Belle
Donald Woods ... Charles Ford
Barton MacLane ... Spider Burke
George E. Stone ... Solly
Joe King ... James Daley (as Joseph King)
Addison Richards ... Coleman
Robert McWade ... Judge Crawford
Joseph Crehan ... McClanahan
Robert Strange ... Graber
Joe Sawyer ... Slugs Crippen (as Joseph Sawyer)
Fred Kohler ... Shanghai Duck
Edward McWade ... Tupper


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 <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


JAMES CAGNEY in this sensational screening of VIGILANTE vengeance! (original print ad - Lubbock Morning Avalanche - Lyric Theatre - Lubbock, Texas - Jan. 19,1938) See more »


Adventure | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The playbill for the opera house gives its name as "McGuire's Opera House," unlike its actual historical name, "Maguire's Opera House." The correct name is given in the newspaper story detailing the opening night incident. See more »


Bat Morgan: The only thing you'll get for helping others is a kick in the face.
See more »


Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair
(1854) (uncredited)
Written by Stephen Foster
In the score often as a love theme for Bat and Jean
See more »

User Reviews

More Story Than Runtime
28 July 2017 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

I doubt that any other film of the time had as many boisterous crowd or mob scenes as this one. So Cagney better be a human dynamo or he'll be overwhelmed by sheer numbers, whether it's crowds in big watering holes or lynch mobs hurtling down streets. It's Gold Rush Frisco of the 1850's. On the low end of town is the Barbary Coast, about as sinful and noisy as waterfronts get. On the high end of town are the swells and well-dressed folks, and by golly, never the twains shall meet. That is, until Cagney's ambitious low-born Bat Morgan schemes his way into both worlds and criminally networks them. Seems he's good at everything, except winning the hand of the classy Miss Barrat (Lindsey) who won't buck the social distance lying between them. So what will happen once his contrived empire starts to sprout holes.

The flick's typical WB from the period—fast, tough, and not too sentimental. Cagney's Cagney, a pint-sized dynamo if ever there was one. He's about as dominating a character as Hollywood has had and perfect for the part. The plot-line itself is not too plausible, but the spectacle does compensate. I wish more time was spent on the details of Bat's scheming and social climbing. After all, that was Cagney's movie appeal-- his lower class drive against all odds.

On the other hand, catch Ricardo Cortez as the one truly slick crook of the bunch. But what about Solly's (Stone) relationship with the domineering Bat. They're buddies, sure, but catch Solly's expressions when the two get close to one another. Too bad about the facile ending which is typical Hollywood of the Code period. Had the movie been made a pre-Code two years earlier, I wonder if the ending would have been the same.

All in all, the storyline is pretty disjointed, really needing a longer runtime for its networking and class themes to develop. There's also the anti-lynching element that doesn't really grieve— after all, the victims are hardly innocent. However, it's really crowd atmospherics and Cagney, that's worth catching up with. Anyway, I expect every extra in Hollywood got a welcome WB payday, along with a chance to shout their lungs out.

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English | Yiddish

Release Date:

30 November 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Frisco Kid See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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