CAST

James Cagney
Edward Woods
Jean Harlow
Joan Blondell
Beryl Mercer
Donald Cook
Mae Clark
Mia Marvin
Leslie Fenton
Robert Emmett O'Connor
DIRECTED BY

William A. Wellman
PURCHASE

Movie
Soundtrack
Book
Poster
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Time: 83 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Film Noir/Crime

Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay.
CAPSULE REVIEW –– Cagney takes on the world in the first of his many starring roles on the big screen. His brash charm hides his character's deep-seated animosity towards the world at large. In Prohibition-Era America it was hard to come by a decent job, if one could be found at all. The film follows his character's rise from a petty street thief to a powerful criminal feared by all. He's clearly the hero of the piece, though his actions are far from admirable. The film walks a fine line between glorifying his lifestyle and making him out to be an evil crook. The opening and closing post-scripts clearly want the audience to identify him as the latter, but Cagney's performance is so powerful you'll find yourself forgiving him his transgressions, much like his mother in the film. How else is he supposed to provide for his family? Though something of a morality tale, the film is quickly paced and light on the rhetoric. The B&W cinematography adds to the grittiness of the story, playing with light and shadow as Cagney flirts with and then succumbs to the dark side of life. Harlow doesn't have much to do except look good, but she makes the most of her small role as one of Cagney's girlfriends. One of the first and best of the early gangster flicks. It has everything one expects of the genre – greed, guns and pretty gals.