TFTMM Presents “Star Of The Month (July 2021)” Featuring James Cagney

July has arrived! With that, we usher in our new Star Of The Month, James Cagney!

Table Of Contents

Quick Film Career Bio

Birth: July 17, 1899

Death: March 30, 1986

After years of being in vaudeville and onstage, James Francis Cagney Jr. starred in the play Penny Arcade alongside actress Joan Blondell. After Al Jolson bought the film rights and sold them to Warner Brothers (with the stipulation that both Cagney and Blondell were to be cast in the film), the film was made as Sinners’ Holiday (1930). His audience appeal started to rise, but it wasn’t until his star turn in The Public Enemy that he hit it big as ruthless gangster Tom Powers. Of course, to his regret, this resulted in him being typecast in various gangster type roles over the years. With the rise of the Code, the studio tried casting him in different roles (including a small return to his song-and-dance roots in Footlight Parade). Behind the scenes, he caused a lot of trouble for Warner Brothers, refusing to do everything they asked him to do, and demanding better pay and fewer films per year. After being forced to do more films in 1935 than he had wanted, he sued the studio over the matter. While that court battle was going on, he did a few films independently for Grand National Pictures, although they weren’t as successful as his films at Warners.

When he won his court battle with Warner (a rarity up to that point, as the studios usually won against their actors), he returned to a much better contract. With that contract allowing for a little more variety in the types of roles he could do, he did a comedy, Boy Meets Girl, to mixed results. His other big film of 1938 was Angels With Dirty Faces, once again putting him into a tough guy role. That film turned out to be a big success, resulting in his first Best Actor nomination. He followed that up with The Roaring Twenties, which would be his last gangster role for nearly a decade. In 1942, he starred in the musical biopic Yankee Doodle Dandy, once again returning to his song-and-dance roots. The movie proved to be a big hit and a morale booster for wartime audiences, as well as his only Best Actor win at the Oscars.

Now, with greater pull, he went independent again, forming his own production company with his brother William. However, over the next few years, they were only able to pull off a handful of films, with them increasingly faring poorly at the box office. So, in 1949, Cagney returned once again to Warner Brothers, bringing his production company with him. Right out of the gate, he scored another big hit, returning to the gangster genre with White Heat. He had a few up-and-down years, with notable roles including Love Me Or Leave Me for MGM (his last Best Actor nomination) and Mister Roberts before leaving Warner Brothers again. Over the next few years, he worked for the various studios, with one television appearance, one film he directed himself (Short Cut To Hell) and one last musical (Never Steal Anything Small) among them. His experience making the comedy One, Two, Three for director Billy Wilder proved to be too much for him, and he decided to retire from the movies afterwards. Eventually, when his health took a turn for the worse after a stroke, he was coaxed out of retirement to appear in the 1981 film Ragtime. After that, he did one TV movie, Terrible Joe Moran. His health took another turn for the worse, and he died in 1986.

Filmography

This is a list of all the films that I personally have reviewed from his filmography so far. Obviously, I will be adding to it throughout the month of July, and it is my plan to add to it as I review more and more of his films even beyond this month’s celebration.

The Public Enemy (1931)

Footlight Parade (1933)

Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)

Each Dawn I Die (1939)

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

White Heat (1949)

Love Me Or Leave Me (1955)

Mister Roberts (1955)

Man Of A Thousand Faces (1957)

Never Steal Anything Small (1959)

Entries For This Month

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man –

The Public Enemy (1931)

Each Dawn I Die (1939)

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

White Heat (1949)

Man Of A Thousand Faces (1957)

Never Steal Anything Small (1959)

Rules:

Since this blogathon lasts a month, I’ll keep the rules here in case anybody is still interested in joining in:

  1. At this point, I am not putting any restrictions on topics related to the various stars, whether it be any of their films, or biographies, lists of favorites, etc.
  2. These celebrations are intended as tributes to these stars, so I would ask that any participating posts be respectful of the stars themselves. Obviously, if you don’t care for that specific star, that would probably not be a good month to join in.
  3. I’m requesting that all posts would be new material, and not any previously published ones.
  4. As previously indicated, these celebrations of the stars and genres will last a whole month each, so you will have that whole month to work with. I myself will be publishing about four or five posts per month (depending on the number of Sundays and whether there are any recent disc releases that would fit the bill), so you can decide how many you want to do (within reason).
  5. If you are interested in joining, I would certainly suggest you either comment on this post, email me at astairefan7@gmail.com, or, for the Facebook savvy, contact me at my FB page. And feel free to use the banners I have put together (I’m still unsure of how much space I will have to work with over time on pictures, so for now I am doing one each).

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