Breakdowns and Blowups


My Review

—Some Good Chuckles and Lots of Great Personality—

Your Bogie Film Fix:

1 Bogie

The Lowdown

Outtakes from some of Hollywood’s greatest films with many of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

What I Thought

So apparently every Christmas, Warner Brothers would host an employee party and one of the treats was a special blooper reel cut together from the year’s previous films. The notion of “outtakes” is nothing new to modern day cinema enthusiasts, as many current DVD’s actually include deleted and flubbed takes as bonus content. Some comedies even include them in the closing credits.

So what’s so special about these? Quite a bit, actually.

Unused film was rarely kept – or kept in well condition, so anything that hit the cutting room floor in Classic Hollywood often also ended up in the cutting room trash can. Add into the mix that professionalism and preparedness was a coveted commodity among actors, and the outtakes from the Classic Hollywood era have a much different feel and tone to anything we’ll see as bonus content nowadays.

Especially during Bogart’s run, World War II put the squeeze on money and supplies for the entire country, Hollywood included, so film stock was too valuable to waste. With electric power being rationed out and cut off in the evening because of potential air raids, it’s easy to understand that the old adage time is money meant a little more back then. (One outtake from 1949 even includes the director yelling at Danny Kaye, only slightly seriously, about wasting film stock.) As the years go on, the actors and crews seem to loosen up quite a bit.

Many of the bloopers in these collections involve angry cursing from the actors after flubbed lines. “Goddamn it!” and “Son of a bitch” seem to be the two favorite epitaphs of most of the actors. Save for some light hearted actors like James Cagney, none of these performers seem all that amused by their mistakes. In fact, the Breakdowns’ editors do most of the comedic heavy lifting as they add in occasional sound effects (raspberries and goofy bells), and play around with the footage at the expense of the actor’s performance.

If I had to hazard a guess, the modern advances in film technology that have brought us into the digital age are a big factor in what’s made current day outtakes so readily available, and apparently more enjoyable from the actor’s point of view.

Not must sees by any stretch of the imagination, but getting to hear Jimmy Stewart say “Son of a bitch. . .” in that soft and simple laid back manner will make you glad you gave these Breakdowns a watch.

The Bogart Factor

His most enjoyable outtakes for me were from 1938’s Swing Your Lady, where he actually seems to be enjoying himself despite the mistakes.

From what I could tell, here’s a rundown of the films that Bogart outtakes appear from:

Breakdowns of 1936Bullets or Ballots, and Two Against the World

Breakdowns of 1937China Clipper

Breakdowns of 1938 – Swing Your Lady

Breakdowns of 1939 You Can’t Get Away with Murder, Dark Victory

Breakdowns of 1940 – The Roaring Twenties

Breakdowns of 1941 – ­ The Wagons Roll at Night

Breakdowns of 1942 The Big Shot

Breakdowns of 1944 – To Have and Have Not, Conflict

Blowups of 1946The Big Sleep

Blowups of 1947 Key Largo

Blowups of 1949 – Key Largo

The Petrified Forest, High Sierra, and a couple other Bogart films are featured sans Bogart flubs.

The Cast

Barton MacLane cracks up just as angrily as the characters he plays on screen!

Edward G. Robinson seems to be one of the few classic era actors that could have a little fun with a mistake, adding his own little raspberry sound to the end of flubs.

Bette Davis always seemed so composed in her Bogart collaborations that it’s kind of fun to see her lose her cool once in a while.

Allen Jenkins shows up in more than a few of the shorts, and I’ll never complain about getting to see some extra Jenkins! In the 1937 edition, enjoy watching him get goosed by an ironing board . . .

James Cagney is the one that really steals the show in most of these. Nearly every time he goofs up, he gives the camera a mischievous little smile as if he’s enjoying his outtakes more than he should! Plus, his waltz with George Raft when they should be fighting is so charming that it might just knock Raft up a few pegs on your likability meter.

Pat O’Brien comes second only to Cagney in having a pretty jocular attitude towards his line flubs, laughing most of them off. In the 1940 edition, it’s hard not to love the guy when he makes fun of his own toupee falling off!

Ronald Reagan . . . “Well that goddamned thing locked again.” Nuff said.

All I can say about Ann Sheridan is that if I would have been alive during her heyday, it would have wrecked me, wrecked me I tell ya, that I couldn’t have her. What a gal. So cute. So funny. All right, I need to go find a Sheridan film to pop in right now.

Jimmy Stewart has my favorite moment from any outtake when he slowly turns towards the camera after flubbing a line in Breakdowns of 1941 and says, “Son of a bitch . . .” So crazy to hear those words come out of his mouth in such a wonderfully resigned and cynical manner! Almost as good is his reaction after a scene in which the camera follows his exit when he wasn’t aware of it.

Director Edmund Goulding has a wonderful outtake as he slips into Joan Fontaine’s wardrobe for just a bit to show her how to act in Breakdowns of 1942.

Also appearing are George Brent, Paul Muni, Alan Hale, Miriam Hopkins, Claude Rains, Barbara Stanwyk, John Garfield, Gary Cooper, Fred MacMurray, Errol Flynn, Wayne Morris, and even Bogie Film Blog favorite Ben Welden! Plus, many, many more.

Danny Kaye will win you over and make you laugh in less than three seconds, guaranteed, in outtakes from 1949’s The Inspector General.

Classic Bogie Moment

Just try and tell me that this little moment of levity from a Key Largo outtake doesn’t warm the cockles of your heart:


The Bottom Line

Lots of fun for any fan of classics.

The End Breakdowns





James Cagney

Cagney Bogart Roaring Twenties PS

Name: James Francis Cagney, Jr.

Birthdate: July 17, 1899

Number of Films James Cagney made with Humphrey Bogart: 3

The Lowdown

Although I’ve always enjoyed James Cagney, it wasn’t until I began to write for this blog that I discovered my true love for the man. Rivaled only by Bogart as far as onscreen charisma is concerned, James Cagney could steal every scene and command every frame that he was in with just a few menacing words, a well-timed comedic line, or just the right smile – a smile that could often combine joy and danger. The man was bursting with an endless stream of energy that seemed to be contagious to any cast that surrounded him.

Cutting his teeth in vaudeville as a dancer and comedian, Cagney would go on to work with Warner Brothers in what would turn out to be an incredibly fruitful, but often tumultuous relationship. With films like The Public Enemy and White Heat, Cagney left behind the defining example of what it meant to be an onscreen gangster – tough, unnerving, funny, and always on the edge of emotional explosion.

Cagney made three films with Humphrey Bogart, and I have to say that I really love all three – even the one that gets the most flak from the critics and modern day TCM viewers (The Oklahoma Kid). With great pleasure, I add James Cagney to ‘The Usual Suspects.’

The Filmography

Angels with Dirty Faces – 1938

Cagney OBrien AngelsCagney with Pat O’Brien

Cagney plays Rocky Sullivan, a small time hood that grows up to be a big time criminal. It’s a wonderfully charismatic performance from Cagney, and it’s the film that makes me think there might need to be a Cagney Film Blog when I’m done with Bogart. Cagney is able to pull off an incredible amount of likability from the viewers even while we watch him do some pretty terrible things to his friends and to the kids that he begins to mentor. A really good film is elevated to great just by the delivery of his final lines in the movie. Even though we see nothing but a quick glimpse of his hands, that last scene still has a deeply moving and painful tone that haunted me for days afterwards. Cagney said that he chose to play his final scene with enough ambiguity that the audience wouldn’t know his real motivation for what he says and does. The choice was genius. You can read my original write up on the film here.

The Oklahoma Kid – 1939


Cagney plays western outlaw Jim Kincaid, and although the real ‘bad guys’ in the film spend their time doing MUCH worse things than Cagney, the law seems to only want to pursue him. For all of the bad things that I’d heard about this film, I thought that Cagney played a great cowboy. Bogart reportedly referred to him as the mushroom because of his oversized hat, but just take a look at Bogart’s hat:


Was the wardrobe department out of mediums that day, or what? Other than the chapeau snafus, Cagney is endlessly watchable here and seemed to be enjoying himself as he flirts, cons, shoots, and rides his way through the film. I’d say it’s a must see Cagney film as he really seems to be having fun. You can read my original write up of the film here.

The Roaring Twenties – 1939

Bogart and Cagney

Cagney plays Eddie Bartlett, a WWII vet who returns home only to find that an honest job with a decent paycheck is all but impossible to get. So what’s a man to do other than to turn his talents towards an illegal bootlegging operation? Cagney gets to run the gamut from celebrated soldier boy, to big time gangster, and then all the way down to flat broke drunk. Cagney’s charisma is off the charts and every moment he’s on screen you just can’t take your eyes off of him. He looks great in a uniform, a tuxedo, and a bum’s clothes. He can switch from coy and charming one minute, to fierce and ruthless the next, and it always plays believably. His comedic timing is perfect and there’s wonderful chemistry with the entire cast. You can read my original write up of the film here.

*UPDATE* – You gotta check out this rare clip that Judy posted on her Movie Classics blog of Cagney in a screen test!  What a great moment!  Linkety-link.

‘The Usual Suspects’ is an ongoing feature on the blog that highlights some of Bogart’s best collaborators. You can find the ever-growing list of names here.

Angels With Dirty Faces – 1938

Angels with dirty faces

My Review

—A Must See Cagney Film—

Your Bogie Film Fix:

Full Bogie out of 5 bogies!

Director: Michael Curtiz

The Lowdown

Two childhood friends (James Cagney and Pat O’Brien) grow up and go down very different paths after a run-in with the police. One becomes a gangster, and the other a priest.

What I Thought

This film was one of the biggest gaps in my Bogart / Classic Film knowledge. I’ve read a lot about it, had it recommended numerous times, and have even come close to actually viewing it on occasion, but this was the first that time I’ve seen it in its entirety.

Did it live up to the hype? For the first hour – no. Not that I thought it was bad, because it’s actually very good. Cagney is amazing, and my appreciation for him continues to grow. It’s the first Pat O’Brien film I’ve seen so far where I thought that he really got to play a 3-dimensional character, and now I’m starting to understand what all the fuss is about. Plus, I got a little dose of Ann Sheridan, which is always a good thing!

I just didn’t think it was as good as everyone had told me. Up until the last fifteen minutes of the film I was ready to rank this one just below The Roaring Twenties. The script is good, but not great. Director Michael Curtiz does a fine job, but it’s a far cry from Casablanca. And then there’s the fact that Bogart is hardly in the film despite high billing and lots of presence in the advertising.

Then I got to the ending . . . wow.

Without giving anything away (in case you’re also behind on seeing this film), Cagney’s final scene is so powerful that I’m still reeling from it two days after watching the film. The movie certainly didn’t have to end that way. It could have gone with a more audience-friendly finish. Yet Curtiz, Cagney, and O’Brien take what was a good film and elevate it to great with just the last fifteen minutes.

I’ll save my praise for Cagney until later in this post, but if you aren’t haunted by his final moments in this film (where we see nothing but Cagney’s hands!), then you might want to double check whether or not you have a soul. Supposedly Cagney played his final scene with enough ambiguity that the audience wouldn’t know exactly why he was saying what he was saying. Was it honest? Was it a show for his friend and for the press? The choice to play it that way was genius, and makes it my favorite moment of any film of Cagney’s I’ve seen.

The Bogart Factor

If you’re here for a Bogart fix, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. The man is barely in it, and when he is it’s a horribly small and two-dimensional lawyer turned gangster character.

Bogart plays James Frazier, a lawyer who goes into business for himself as a racketeer after he swipes a hundred thousand dollars off of Cagney after Cagney is sentenced to a long prison stint. Most of the role is spent sniveling into a phone, or sniveling to his partner in crime (George Bancroft), or just plain sniveling for his life from Cagney.

Bogart’s trying, but there’s literally nothing here to work with. Why have two crooks in Bogart and Bancroft? Why not just consolidate them into one role and give it a little more meat? It’s probably the biggest shortcoming of the script that we don’t get a better antagonist to work against Cagney’s attempt at creating a new criminal empire.

The Cast

James Cagney plays Rocky Sullivan, the small time hood who grows up to be a big time criminal. Cagney’s onscreen charisma is off the charts in every starring role that I’ve seen, and perhaps there needs to be a Cagney Film Blog somewhere down the road. He more than capably pulls off an incredible amount of likability from the audience even while we watch him do some pretty lowdown things to his friends and the kids he begins to mentor. Perhaps the gift that I appreciate the most is the fact that you can always see Cagney’s mind racing, as if he’s thinking one or two steps ahead of the current plan, racing his mind to cover all the bases. This is great, great, Cagney. And like I mentioned earlier, his delivery of his final lines is so emotionally painful, it’s a rare thing for a movie from this era to disturb me so deeply.

Pat O’Brien plays Father Jerry Connolly, Cagney’s childhood friend and former fellow hoodlum. After Cagney’s arrested and begins a life of crime, O’Brien’s Father Jerry finds the straight and narrow and dedicates his life to helping juvenile delinquents get a shot at a better life. After several films in which I really wasn’t a fan of O’Brien (China Clipper, San Quentin), I have to say that I was really impressed here. His character had a lot more nuance and subtext than the last two films, and O’Brien made me believe he was a man with a darker past. I admit that I was caught completely off guard when he slugged the patron at the bar for giving him a hard time. It was a realistic moment of fury that helped show the fine balance O’Brien was taking to toe the line between ex-criminal and clergyman.

Ann Sheridan plays Laury Ferguson, and GOOD GRIEF is she underused in this film. After falling in love with her in It All Came True, I was pretty anxious to see her in another leading lady role – but this ain’t it! There’s a few moments of promise at the beginning when she starts a relationship with Cagney, but after that, Sheridan is relegated to occasionally popping up to fret over the men of the film and try not to look out of place even though she has little to do. I’m going to have to keep searching for another great Sheridan role I guess . . .

George Bancroft plays Bogart’s partner in crime, Mac Keefer. There seems to be a little more depth here than what Bogart got to play with, but not much. I liked Bancroft and his team of thugs, but I never really bought that any of them were a real threat to Cagney.

The “Dead End” Kids basically play themselves. They are one of the strongest points of the film, and they all get a little more time to shine than they did in Crime School, as their screen time is divided up a little more evenly and Billy Halop doesn’t take all the good lines. What’s most entertaining to me is that this is apparently the film where Bogart finally got fed up with their bad behavior after they stole some of his pants and lobbed fire crackers at him. (Cagney supposedly smacked Leo Gorcy for adlibbing!) The boys are very charismatic, and add quite a few good moments of levity to the film.

Classic Bogie Moment

Not much to work with here! So I’ll just go with a pic that illustrates how no one could smoke like Bogie could smoke –

Angels classic

The Bottom Line

Even though Bogart gets shortchanged, you need to see this one just for Cagney’s performance!

The Oklahoma Kid – 1939

Kid Poster

My Review

—Better Than You’ve Been Led to Believe—

Your Bogie Film Fix:

2 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director:  Lloyd Bacon

The Lowdown

Jim ‘The Oklahoma Kid’ Kincaid (James Cagney) is an amiable outlaw who really only steals from people who deserve it.  When his father and brother are put in harm’s way by a ruthless land thief (Humphrey Bogart), Kincaid looks to set things right.

What I Thought

I had heard so many bad things about this film that I’d prepared myself for the worst.

I’d heard that it was “the film with the two shortest cowboys of all time.”  True enough, but I did think that nicknaming Cagney ‘The Oklahoma Kid’ helped a lot.  And who cares if the bad guy’s short?  Lots of famous bad guys are short!

I’d also heard it was “the film with the cowboys that have gangster accents.”  This complaint is a bit more understandable considering that everyone in the film besides Cagney and Bogart seemed to have more Midwestern accents, if not full out drawls.  Our two stars though, sound just as if they’d plopped right down outta The Roaring Twenties.

I’d also read from multiple sources that it was “the cowboy film with goofy outfits,” as even Bogart himself thought that Cagney’s costume made him look like a big mushroom:


Although when you consider Bogart’s chapeau:


It makes me wonder, were they out of medium sized hats that day???

I had a lot of similar feelings watching this film as I did when I watched The Return of Doctor X.  It may not be the best use of Bogart’s talents, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable film.  Cagney especially seems full of endless joy as he grins and charms his way through this movie.

This is my fifth Lloyd Bacon film for the blog after Brother Orchid, Action in the North Atlantic, Marked Woman, and San Quentin, and out of the five, I actually think it’s the film where Bacon has taken the biggest risks.  With about twenty minutes left of the movie, I anticipated that it was about to wrap up in the standard, Hollywood cliché, cowboy film way – with Cagney blasting the pistols out of evil doers’ hands and roping everyone up into prison.  Much to my surprise, I ended up watching a film that could be labeled as an early precursor to Eastwood’s Unforgiven.  (In the tone of the final act only, mind you!)

Director Bacon doesn’t hold back as multiple main characters start to meet violently disturbing ends.  Cagney’s Oklahoma Kid responds in kind, finally living up to the reputation that we’ve heard about for the entire movie but hadn’t yet seen, as he systematically begins to take apart Whip McCord’s (Humphrey Bogart) gang one by one.

It made me wish that we could have seen a darker side to Cagney throughout the first three quarters of the film when Director Bacon really seemed to be leaning harder on the comedy while the end of the film probably needed a bit more of a dramatic setup.  Quite a few times you’ll wonder, Why exactly are they working so hard to track down The Oklahoma Kid when there are much worse gangsters already destroying everything?  

Is it a perfect film?  No, definitely not.  Is it a great western?  No, not really.  But it is a decent movie with lots of fun moments, and it has two Hollywood legends playing outside of their normal wheelhouse of roles.  With only a finite amount of Cagney and Bogart films to enjoy, I’ll lend The Oklahoma Kid a lot of grace for its lack of credibility.

The Bogart Factor

Whip McCord is a pretty two-dimensional bad guy for Bogart, and there are several times during the film when the character disappears for extended periods.  Any shortcomings, though, stem more from the script than from Bogart’s performance.  He does his best with a limited role, and he even looks comfortable on horseback.  His lack of screen time might have partially been due to the fact that he was concurrently filming Dark Victory with Bette Davis while he was making this film.

We do get to see, what I would consider, the greatest fistfight that I’ve seen in a Bogart movie to date when Bogart and Cagney finally have it out at the end of the film.  Starting on the second landing of the saloon, both men (and their stunt doubles) get to the main floor the hard way.  Check out the way that Bogart high-kicks Cagney right in the face and then goes after him with a broken bottle!  It’s a gritty, violent, and incredibly enjoyable Western fistfight if there ever was one.

If nothing else, we get to see Bogart dressed in black and riding a horse – that’s worth the price of admission alone, isn’t it?

The Cast

James Cagney is pretty good as Jim Kincaid.  Did this guy ever do a bad role?  Cagney is endlessly watchable onscreen and seemed to be enjoying himself as he flirts, cons, shoots, and rides his way through the film.

Rosemary Lane is Jane Hardwick, Cagney’s love interest.  Much like The Return of Doctor X, I found her capable, but incredibly underwritten.  How is it that the same gal gets shortchanged in both of Bogart’s wildest genre films?

Harvey Stephens and Hugh Sothern play Ned and John Kincaid, Cagney’s brother and father, respectively.  Both men are solid, holding up a majority of the film when Cagney’s not present.  Stephens plays especially earnest and honorable as he rallies a group of men against Bogart’s outlaw with this great line:

Ned Kincaid:  “Shootings, killings, robberies, and a mighty orgy of drunkenness!  Gambling and vice!  All directly traceable to McCord’s influence!”

Hugh Sothern’s exit from the film shocked me, and added the first real emotional weight to the film as it switches gears from lighthearted western to dark revenge tale.

Don’t Forget to Notice 

Ray Mayer, who made a career out of showing up in films as a piano player/musician, has one of the funniest moments in the film as Cagney makes a request for a song in the saloon, despite the fact that there’s a man nearby who happens to be trying to kill him.

Classic Bogie Moment

I think that what makes Bogart so great and believable as a bad guy is that even when he’s given a two-dimensional role, he’s able to add some realistic vulnerability.  When a typical film villain hears bad news from a henchman, what does he do?  He might grimace and grit his teeth.  He might furrow his brow and clench his fists.  He might snarl and bark with spittle flying in all directions.  Not Bogart.  While getting bad news in two scenes in particular, he does exactly what an actor is supposed to do.  He listens.  And while he listens, we can see him actually thinking about what’s being said:


Bogart slowly turns away from the other actor, looking upset, confused, stressed, and even a little scared as he’s forced to adjust his plans in dealing with Cagney and his family.  It’s a little trait that I recognize from a lot of his other films, and it’s used well here.

The Bottom Line

If you like Cagney, you need to see this film.  If you’re more than a casual fan of Bogart, you’ll find a lot to love about The Oklahoma Kid despite its flaws.

The Roaring Twenties – 1939

roaring twenties

My Review

—Great Film—

Your Bogie Fix:

3 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director:  Raoul Walsh

The Lowdown

Eddie Bartlett (James Cagney) returns from fighting in World War I and finds that the only way he can make a decent living is by selling homemade liquor.  Soon Bartlett is running a bootlegging operation, in love with a naïve young singer (Priscilla Lane), and teaming up with two old war buddies (Jeffry Lynn and Humphrey Bogart) to deliver cheap booze to as many speakeasies as he can muscle.  Before long though, Bartlett finds that his unrequited love and his jealous partner are more than he can handle while running a business.

What I Thought

This film is a whole lot of fun.  While it may not be Cagney or Bogart’s best gangster movie, it’s still fantastic and well worth the watch.

Cagney gets to run the gamut from celebrated soldier boy to big time gangster, and then all the way down to flat broke drunk.  I use the word charisma a lot on this blog when I talk about Bogart’s command of the big screen, but Cagney is another one of those actors that you just can’t take your eyes off of.  He looks great in a uniform, a tuxedo, and a bum’s clothes.  He can switch from coy and charming one minute, to fierce and ruthless the next, and it always plays believably.  Plus, he has a great sense of comedic timing and isn’t afraid to let his costars shine.  Good guy or evil, it’s hard not to root for him in any role.

While the story of bootlegging gangsters might not be new or groundbreaking, it is quite layered, weaving many different characters in and out of the life of Cagney’s returning war veteran, Bartlett.

Many gangster movies of the time were satisfied with introducing one female lead to hold the main hood’s coat and be a good little mobgirl stereotype – The Roaring Twenties gives us two, and neither one of them turns out to be the typical squeaky moll that we might expect.

The young singer that Bartlett adores won’t return his loving glance, let alone his proposal ring.  All the while, the older speakeasy madam is quietly pining away for him, but Bartlett can’t bring himself out of his puppy-love daze long enough to notice.

Then there are Bartlett’s two pals that would give him the shirt off their backs and all he does is lead them down a dangerous and tragic path.  Bartlett’s roommate Danny (Frank McHugh) is willing to do absolutely anything to help his buddy make it, and it costs him big when Bartlett continually puts him in harm’s way.  And Bartlett’s old war buddy, Lloyd (Jeffry Lynn), who’s now a lawyer, barely makes it out of Bartlett’s racket by the skin of his teeth.

What sets this film apart from so many gangster of the time is that director Raoul Walsh gives us a story that’s more epic in nature than what we’ve come to expect from these sorts of crime films.  These are three dimensional characters that all have interests and desires that, like in real life, don’t all orbit around one central character so that everything wraps up nicely before the credits.

Cagney’s Bartlett is a man with a serious tragic flaw – he can’t always put aside his own ambition to see the bigger picture.  It costs him in the end when he passes up one too many chances to take care of his business partner, and rival, George Hally (Bogart), leaving us with a bittersweet finale after Bartlett finally does the right thing, albeit a little too late.

The Bogart Factor

Bogart’s got a strong first ten minutes in the film and then disappears until about halfway through.  It’s not as well rounded a character as Cagney has to play with, as Bogart plays a slightly more typical bad guy, but it does have its moments.

Director Walsh is able to misdirect us a bit, making Bogart’s George Hally a borderline likable guy.  There’s an inkling here and there that Hally could go bad, but we really don’t know for sure until the final act of the film.

Small scenes are given to Bogart’s character that are able to show his menace, while at the same time giving us motivation for his eventual turn on Cagney.  In particular, Walsh crafts a great little side story where Hally comes across his old, belligerent army Sergeant (Joe Sawyer) as the bootleggers are committing a robbery.  Through just a few lines earlier in the movie, we know that Hally feels as if he’s been mistreated by the Sergeant, a man that Hally has always felt superior to.  At both points in the film, we don’t yet know that Bogart’s going to turn on Cagney, and so it’s not hard for us to understand Hally’s satisfaction in getting revenge on his old tormenter. It also adds a little color to Bogart’s character as we learn that he doesn’t like taking orders from anyone – which ends up being George Hally’s tragic flaw.

The Cast

Priscilla Lane is very good as Jean Sherman, the teenage girl who writes Cagney during the war and then steals his heart when he gets home.  She very convincingly plays ignorant to Cagney’s advances, and it’s easy to believe that she’d fall for a character like Jeffrey Lynn’s stand-up Lloyd.

Perhaps my favorite moments of the film happen with Frank McHugh’s portrayal of Cagney’s best friend, Danny.  McHugh’s comic timing and expressive face inject a lot of good nature and levity into the early part of the movie, and he works very well with Cagney.  McHugh pops up here and there in a lot of Classic Hollywood films, and I need to further explore his filmography.

Another high point is Gladys George (Iva Archer in The Maltese Falcon) as a speakeasy hostess who has a thing for Cagney.  She takes the role well beyond the caricature that it could have been, and gives the audience a strong character that we can relate to as she watches Cagney spin out of control.

Don’t Forget to Notice

A number of Bogie regulars show up in character roles – Joe Sawyer as the Sergeant, Ben Welden as a bar owner, and Eddie Acuff as a taxi driver.  My goal before this blog is done is to create a cross referenced list of all the actors who pop up in Bogart’s movies again and again.

Classic Bogie Moment

The scene that sticks out to me most is one that comes early in the film and shows Bogart’s skill at mixing humor and menace in the same moment.  Bogart, Cagney, and Lynn are all in a firefight, taking shots at Germans just before the war ends.  Lynn lines up a man in his sights, but can’t bring himself to fire:

Bogart:  What’s the matter Harvard?  You lose the Heinie?

Lynn:  No, but he looks like a kid about fifteen years old.

Bogart:  (TAKES THE SHOT AND SNEERS) He won’t be sixteen . . .

The Bottom Line

This is a great film, and while it might not be one of Bogart’s most iconic roles, he plays his part very well and gives us a heavy that can stand up against Cagney as a believable threat.