James Cagney

4 posts

100 Greatest Gangster Films: White Heat, #17

This was film noir, movies where evil not only exists, but flourishes. Cagney’s Cody Jarrett isn’t a charismatic outlaw who viewers could vicariously admire, but rather a despicable embodiment of immorality, a man who takes what he wants whenever he wants it, mocking and abusing all those he comes in contact with—including the cops, members of his own gang and his less-than-virtuous wife, Verna (Virginia Mayo).

Movie still: The Public Enmy

100 Greatest Gangster Films: The Public Enemy, #23

Cagney, along with Edward G. Robinson, Paul Muni and, later, Humphrey Bogart, invented the film gangster. Each brought a sense of the street and gritty realism. For Cagney, that came naturally. He grew up on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and had to drop out of college after one semester when his father died. He knew how to be tough, in an argument or in a rumble.

Movie still: Angels With Dirty Faces

100 Greatest Gangster Films: Angels With Dirty Faces, #46

Some movies hold up well over time. This one doesn’t. We wanted to like Angels with Dirty Faces as much as we did the first time we saw it. But it just wasn’t happening. Maybe some movies play better in our memories than they do on DVD. It is still worth watching, however, mostly due to the acting.

100 Greatest Gangster Films: The Roaring Twenties, #74

Warner Brothers owned the franchise for gangster films in the 1930s. The studio capped the decade with this Cagney-Bogey crime drama that some consider a classic. James Cagney is great as Eddie Bartlett and Humphrey Bogart is convincing as treacherous bad guy George Hally.