Monday, July 12, 2010

Love That Leading Man

I was trying to figure out just what to write about tonight-going through my DVD collection-More zombie movies, eh, not feeling it. Kung Fu movie-meh, no high kicks for me. I am in the mood for one of my favorite leading men, James Cagney. Not only could Cagney play the "tough guy" but his dancing and singing were well known throughout the movie community, dating back to his vaudeville days.

Cagney was best known for his tough guy persona. Both Public Enemy and Angels With Dirty Faces cemented him as a cinema bad guy and turned him into a cash cow for the Studios. He received his first Academy award nomination in 1938 for Angels With Dirty Faces for his leading man role. His portrayal of Rocky Sullivan is haunting. Straddling the line between good and evil-eventually falling for the wrong side.

A few years later Cagney stared in Yankee Doodle Dandy. The studio took a gamble on putting him in the role of George M. Cohen, the American composer, singer, & dancer. The movie tells the life store of George Cohen and his contribution to American music.Cagney finally got to show off his very talented feet to his growing public!

Cagney's last movie before his death in 1986, was Ragtime. He played the police commissioner in this turbulent tale of turn of the century music and the racial uprising it brought. The movie was up for 8 Oscars and has been considered one of his greatest roles. The music is as haunting as his performance.

I get a little sad when I see a James Cagney movie. He chose roles that touched something in all of us, the working people of society. These were roles that the average working stiff could relate to. He himself was a hard working man but he made everything look so effortless. He was a gentleman who believed in his work and continued doing so right up until his death.


Becky said...

Ahhh, Mr Cagney! His lovely visage is on the wall of my workroom. Very few can compare!

He has an extra special place in our hearts as my son played the George M. Cohen role in a shorter version of Yankee Doodle Dandy. "45 Minutes to Broadway" was Jordan's last Community Youth Theatre role before launching in to High School.

kat smith said...

Oh how I loved that man. My favorite two Cagney movies are Love Me or Leave Me with Doris Day, and The Lon Chaney Story: Man of a Thousand Faces. I really wish one of my other favorite actors Michael J. Fox could have made the autobiographical movie about Cagney that he wanted to make. He has said that meeting Cagney right before his death was one of the great moments of his life.