In a scene not uncommon to Cagney films we see Jimmy released from Sing Sing as the opening credits come to an end. The old gang members are there to welcome him back to the fold for being a “stand up guy”. Problem is Cagney doesn’t want to go back to the old lifestyle and wants to play it straight and chase a dream. Enter Ralph Bellamy.
Bellamy works on a cut rate newspaper and gives Cagney an opportunity to make good as a news photographer. Straight or crooked, it’s always fun to see Cagney being Cagney with the fast talking delivery and rolling of the shoulders as he competes with other newshounds for front page scoops. Fast dames are always a part of the Cagney Universe and here we get Alice White who can’t keep her hands off him even though she is supposed to be Bellamy’s girl. As fate would have it Cagney falls for wholesome Patricia Ellis who just happens to be the daughter of the “copper” who sent Jimmy up the river previously. With a fast moving plot and plenty of Cagney fisticuffs this is a fun film for the Cagney crowd. As is customary he even lays a well timed left hook on Alice White’s kisser as there was no grape fruit handy. His big break comes when a previous member of the Cagney gang who Jimmy suspects set him up for his stretch in Sing Sing becomes public enemy number one. With his underground know how and street smarts can Cagney track him down to get the inside scoop before the competing newspaper reporters? What do you think.
Go to guy Ralph Bellamy has a pretty decent role here as well in what was his normal 2nd lead casting. Bellamy is one of those rare actors from the thirties whose career was so long I can say I saw him in a movie theater in the 1980’s opposite Eddie Murphy in Trading Places as Randolph Duke (Here’s your dollar). The director Lloyd Bacon was another factory like director in the Warner’s stable who would go on to work with Cagney a number of times on films including Devil Dogs of the Air and the somewhat campy The Oklahoma Kid.
The newspaper was always a popular backdrop for thirties Hollywood and this one fits right in for a rapid paced piece of entertainment Jimmy Cagney style! Enjoy.