Your TOP Cagney movie . . .?

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by Benzadmiral, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. Benzadmiral

    Benzadmiral Call Me a Cab

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    We have one for Bogart, as we should. Now how about James "Jimmy" Cagney?

    I expect a lot of people here would plump for White Heat --

    vlcsnap-2012-09-03-14h57m04s125.png

    -- not least because it is probably the greatest cops-'n'-robbers movie ever, and his astonishing performance makes it go. And then there's The Roaring Twenties, which combines Cagney and Bogart; and even his late film One, Two, Three is a delight.

    What say all of you?
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2017
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  2. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    "Top" is always hard, but darn if I don't "stop and drop" every time "One, Two, Three" is on. Not because it's a great movie - it's okay - but it is a Cagney tour de force. He delivers dialogue like machine-gun fire and carries the entire movie by dint of outsized talent, personality and acting skills.

    How he memorized all that dialogue (he must say more words in that movie than most leads do in three normal movies) and is able to spit it out naturally is amazing. He makes "One, Two, Three" a gem and I can't image any other actor in the role.
     
  3. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    One, Two, Three is a brilliant piece of work -- and it's hard to believe he wouldn't make another film for twenty years.

    But my favorite would have to be a tossup between "Taxi," from 1932, with Cagney as a two-fisted union-organizing cabbie, and "Footlight Parade," from 1933, with Cagney as a fast-talking stage producer trying to out-hustle a rival producer. Nobody out-hustles Cagney.
     
  4. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Is "Taxi" the one you posted the clip - several weeks back - of Cagney talking in Yiddish?
     
  5. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Yep, that's the one. Always worth another look!

     
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  6. Angus Forbes

    Angus Forbes One of the Regulars

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    To each his own, of course, but I have never liked Cagney. His style seems more like self-parody than acting. Always the same bombastic street-punk delivery. Edward G. Robinson had a much better range and delivery -- he could play it as a punk, or as a serious tough, or as a good guy. He even had some class when it was appropriate.
     
  7. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    That is freakin' fantastic.

    And probably even better if I had any idea what anyone other than the cop was saying.

    Edit Add ('cause I had to watch it again): Perhaps the best part of this is that Cagney is almost part of the audience at first as he seems to be genuinely laughing and enjoying the scene.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2017
  8. green papaya

    green papaya One Too Many

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    I always liked the movie "ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES" (1938)

    Rocky Sullivan (James Cagney) and Jerry Connolly (Pat O'Brien) were brought up in one of New York's toughest neighborhoods, Hell's Kitchen. While his buddy Rocky gets caught up in racketeering in reform school, Jerry decides to become a priest. Years later, Rocky is released from prison and returns to Hell's Kitchen, where Jerry works with at-risk children.
     
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  9. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion Call Me a Cab

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    A good friend and I always used Cagney as a model in making up a dialogue for his wife, who does her best to tolerate it. The words are ours, not his:

    upload_2017-8-5_6-2-55.png
     
  10. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Basically, the fellow in the derby is asking how to get to Ellis Island so he can meet up with his wife and three kids who have just arrived from Russia. But trying to get thru to the goyische cop is like pulling teeth, and he should know because he's got a brother who's a dentist, a dentist! Cagney picks up on this and asks the guy where he wants to go. The guy is amazed, and asks him if he's a Jewish boy. Cagney says "What else, a shaygitz?" Which is like saying, Mrs. Nussbaum style, "You were expecting maybe a Gentile?"

    It's amazing how much of it you can pick up from repeated playbacks and a few clues from German loanwords like "kinder" and "Russland."
     
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  11. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    And if that's not enough, it seems there's a very clever bit of punning going on there. "Goyische cop" is very close to "goyische kopf," which is an insult meaning, literally "Non-Jewish Head," interpreted more or less as "Stupid Head." That's telling him where to get off.
     
  12. MisterCairo

    MisterCairo I'll Lock Up

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    Captains of the Clouds, 1942. Though he was kind of carried by his co-star, Air Marshall William Avery "Billy" Bishop.

    Direction by Michael "Casablanca" Curtiz helped too!
     
  13. DNO

    DNO One Too Many

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    My favourite Cagney film is probably 'The Public Enemy' from 1931. "I ain't so tough"...great line.

    Always like to watch him in 'Mr. Roberts' as well. And although I'm not a big musical fan, nor a fan of propaganda films, I have to admit I love watching him dance in 'Yankee Doodle Dandy'. He makes it look effortless.
     
  14. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    I can only watch "Yankee Doodle Dandy" if I fast forward to the Cagney dance or super-fast dialogue scenes; otherwise, I find it unwatchable. He is amazing in the movie / the movie is painful.
     
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  15. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The final scene in "The Public Enemy," when Cagney's trussed-up corpse topples straight into the camera, is one of the most disturbing movie scenes I ever saw. And then the voice of his mother -- "Tom! Tom, is that you?" -- and then his brother looking from the corpse on the floor in the direction of the approaching mother. Fade out.

    The whole picture is raw and uncompromising, but the ending is absolutely brutal.
     
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  16. EngProf

    EngProf Practically Family

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    I agree with the choice of "The Public Enemy" as the best Cagney movie.
    The shoot-out in the rain is a great lead-in to the final death scene.
    I doubt that they could have made the movie the way they did after 1934.
     
  17. DNO

    DNO One Too Many

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    Absolutely. I find that scene chilling and unnerving every time I watch it.
     
  18. green papaya

    green papaya One Too Many

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    I agree, WHITE HEAT was also a excellent gangster movie! one of his best

    EACH DAWN I DIE was a good prison movie
     

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