Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

/ Leave a comment
Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

Angels with Dirty Faces (1938). 97 minutes. Directed by Michael Curtiz. Starring James Cagney (as William “Rocky” Sullivan), Pat O’Brien (as Father Jerry Connolly), the Dead End Kids (as Soapy, Swing, Bim, Pasty, Crab, and Hunky), Humphrey Bogart (as Jim Frazier), Ann Sheridan (as Laury Martin), and George Bancroft (as Mac Keefer).

Angels with Dirty Faces was famously parodied in the Home Alone franchise as Angels with Filthy Souls, an old violent crime film with an outrageous title that the young protagonist Kevin McCallister watches when his parents are out of town. If you have seen one of the Home Alone movies, you might think that violence and the glorification of the gangster are the defining features of the parody noir’s source material. Yet while Angels with Dirty Faces does depict violence and crime, the movie nevertheless features a complex ending that undermines its gangster protagonist’s rebellious, law-breaking streak, making him appear cowardly and weak. It is an essential … Read the rest

The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941)

/ Leave a comment
"The Bride Came C.O.D." Detail from a movie poster.

The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941). 92 minutes.  Directed by William Keighley.  Starring James Cagney (as Steve Collins), Bette Davis (as Joan Winfield), Eugene Pallette (as Lucius Winfield), and Harry Davenport (as “Pop” Tolliver).

The Bride Came C.O.D. is reminiscent of two other films that I have reviewed recently.  Like von Stroheim’s Greed, it was filmed in Death Valley when temperatures were high.  Like It Happened One Night, it features a wealthy heiress who wants to marry a dashing celebrity of whom her father disapproves, and the plot involves her displacement and an elaborate hunt to locate her.

By the early 1940s, Bette Davis and James Cagney were looking for new material.  Cagney had flourished playing gangster characters in movies such as The Public Enemy, and Davis had had great success in melodramas such as Jezebel and Of Human Bondage, but both actors thought a comedy was necessary to move their careers in fresh directions.  What they … Read the rest