James Cagney

The Dastardly Past:  James Cagney.


How do you write a short piece on one of classic Hollywood’s most notable personalities?  On June 17, 1899, James Cagney was born in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  His career spanned thirty years—fifty if you count the years between his penultimate move, One, Two, Three, and his last production, Ragtime.  During his career he demonstrated an uncanny ability to succeed in most genres, from gangsters to song-and-dance men to westerns.  His comedic timing was brilliant, and he brought a frightening intensity to his non-gangster dramatic roles.

Perhaps the best way to acknowledge his life and talent is to ask for peoples’ top three favorite Cagney films.  Mine are One, Two, Three, 13 Rue Madeleine, and The Public Enemy.  Or perhaps their favorite Cagney moments, like tap-dancing down the stairs of the White House in Yankee Doodle Dandy, snickering over a comic book in Mr. Roberts, or shoving a grapefruit into the face of Mae Clarke in The Public Enemy.

So for the record, what are your Cagney favorites?

2 thoughts on “James Cagney”

  1. There are so, so many great Cagney performances. I love his early work in Public Enemy, Lady Killer, Taxi!, Blonde Crazy, and his later 30’s films like Angels With Dirty Faces and The Roaring Twenties…. I could go on and on!


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