Posts Tagged ‘james cagney’

13 Rue Madeleine

Monday, November 12th, 2012

13 Rue Madeleine

Tagline – The Most Sinister Address in History!

Starring – James Cagney (Robert Emmett “Bob” Sharkey), Richard Conte (Wilhelm Kuncel/William H. “Bill” O’Connell), Annabella (Suzanne de Beaumont), Frank Latimore (Jeff Lassiter).

Released – January, 1947

Directed By – Henry Hathaway

Produced By – Twentieth Century Film Corporation

Distributed By – Twentieth Century Film Corporation

Description – Bob Sharkey is the chief instructor in charge of training espionage agents to infiltrate Nazi occupied Europe during World War II, and he has a big problem.

There is a rotten apple in his barrel of agents. Intelligence has informed Bob that a German agent is part of his latest group of trainees and Bob must find out just who it is. Identifying the German agent is not difficult as one particular agent, Bill O’Connell, easily succeeds in a field problem that is designed to cause mistakes by novice agents.

Further investigation into O’Connell’s background confirms that he is actually top German agent Wilhelm Kuncel. It is the intention of Kuncel to learn the date and location of the planned Allied invasion of Europe.

Bob is instructed to pass the German along with the other new agents, but to provide him with false information regarding the planned invasion to pass along to his superiors.

The plan is to send Kuncel along with two other agents, Suzanne de Beaumont and Jeff Lassiter, into Europe. Kuncel is given a false mission while de Beaumont and Lassiter will be searching for the factory depot for V-2 Rockets that will be used against the Allied forces during the invasion.

Lassiter’s orders are to kill Kuncel if he follows him and de Beaumont rather than work to complete his own mission. This responsibility makes Lassiter nervous and his uneasiness is easily picked up on by Kuncel who is now suspicious that his idendity may be known.

When the three are parachuted over Holland to sneak behind enemy lines, Lassiter’s chute fails to open and he falls to his death. The planes jumpmaster discovers that Lassiter’s chute was deliberately cut and his death was no accident.

It is now obvious that Kuncel is aware of the plan to deceive him and can identify every agent that he trained with. He must be stopped before endangering the entire planned invasion. Feeling responsible for the dire situation, Bob Sharkey volunteers to replace Lassiter.

With the aid of the local French Resistance force, Sharkey is able to capture and return to Great Britain the Nazi collaborator who designed the V-2 Rocket depot.

While attempting to stop Kuncel from returning to Germany with the espionage information he is captured and their seemingly is no way to stop Kuncel from identifying all of the Allied agents and guaranteeing their death.

NOTABLE: James Cagney’s character, Robert Emmett ‘Bob’ Sharkey, was originally based on the World War II director of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), William Donovan (i.e. Major General William Joseph Donovan, USA, GCSS, KBE) as well as the spy agency being based on the O.S.S. Donovan objected to this, particularly the story element that the OSS had been infiltrated by a German Nazi agent spy. Alas, the spy agency became the “077” and any of Cagney’s character similarities with Donovan were removed.

Actor Rex Harrison was the first offered the lead role in 13 Rue Madeleine this motion picture, but turned it down.

Director Henry Hathaway and Producer Louis De Rochemont had previously worked together on the 20th Century Fox spy film titled The House on 92nd Street. Coincidentally, both films used street addresses in their titles.

httpv://youtu.be/-pkR-XOikSs

Mister Roberts

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Mister Roberts

Tagline – All the Uproarious Fun of the Smash Broadway Play!

Starring – Henry Fonda (Lt. JG Douglas A. ‘Doug’ Roberts), James Cagney (Capt. Morton), William Powell (Lt. ‘Doc’), Jack Lemmon (Ens. Frank Thurlowe Pulver), Betsy Palmer (Lt. Ann Girard).

Released – July, 1955

Directed By – John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy

Produced By – Warner Brothers, Orange

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – Cargo officer Lt. JG Roberts is serving aboard the re-supply ship the USS Reluctant, in the Pacific, near the end of World War II. While the Germans have surrendered, and the war in Europe has ended, there is still a great deal of fighting in the Pacific.

Lt. Roberts has repeatedly requested a transfer in order to join the action, but Capt. Morton knows he has the best supply officer in the service and refuses to sign Robert’s transfer orders. While Roberts relationship with the captain is testy, he has an excellent relationship with the zany crew of the Reluctant.

Capt. Morgan has refused, for the past year, to allow his crew any shore leave, and Roberts in order to get some leave for the crew, agrees to never again request a transfer. It seems that Lt. Roberts excellent performance just may play a role in a promotion for the Captain.

While Roberts is all about hard-work and efficiency, there is another side to this crew. Take Ensign Pulver for example, who avoids work at every opportunity and runs a very successful black-market buying and selling operation.

The shore leave for the men looks like it may be a big mistake. Once on shore the men are off and running, getting drunk, starting fights, crashing an embassy party, and more often than not, having to be returned to the ship by the Army’s military police.

This is only the beginning as the theft of a motorcycle, the ship’s secretary, and even a goat belonging to the Admiral come into play. Why all the bad behavior by the crew? They think Lt. Roberts has been a little too friendly to their tyrant of a captain and this is a betrayal of their trust.

After Capt. Morgan is given a good tongue-lashing by the Admiral for the trouble and embarrassment to the Navy caused by the crews behavior, the Capt. is furious at Roberts and has him sent to the captains quarters.

While there Capt. Morgan angrily berates Roberts without realizing that a microphone is on and the entire crew can hear the conversation. The crew now realize that Lt. Roberts acted in their behalf in order to get them some shore leave…and comic revenge on the captain is now the order of the day.

NOTABLE: Mister Roberts won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jack Lemmon), and was also nominated for Best Picture, and Best Sound, Recording.

Henry Fonda was the choice of director John Ford for the role of Lt. JG ‘Doug’ Roberts. Warner Brothers originally wanted William Holden or Marlon Brando for the role believing Fonda to have been on stage and off the screen for too long to provide much box office appeal. But, it was Fonda who won a Tony Award for playing the role on stage.

John Ford, who could be a very difficult director, was replaced with Mervyn LeRoy after reportedly clashing with Henry Fonda and punching him in the jaw.

The filming of Mister Roberts was the beginning of a long-time friendship between James Cagney and Jack Lemmon which lasted until Cagney’s death.

Mister Roberts was the final film for popular actor William Powell who had begun to develop health issues that caused him great difficulty remembering his lines. The part of Doc was originally offered to Spencer Tracy who declined the role.

Personal Note: This is a very entertaining comedy-drama  with a sparkling performance by Jack Lemmon. One which would lead him on the road to stardom.

Love Me or Leave Me

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Love Me or Leave Me

Tagline – Life-Inspired Drama From Dance Hall to Ziegfield Follies!

Starring – Doris Day (Ruth Etting), James Cagney (Martin “The Gimp” Snyder), Cameron Mitchell (Johnny Alderman), Robert Keith (Bernard V. Loomis).

Released – June, 1955

Directed By – Charles Vidor

Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – Enjoy the biographical story of Ruth Etting, who rose from taxi-dancer to movie star. After being fired from her job, in a 1920’s dance club, Ruth Etting catches the eye of mobster Martin Snyder. Snyder, known as “The Gimp” due to a limp, offers to help Ruth with her career by using his many nightclub connections.

Ruth is given a job in a chorus line at a swanky club where she meets piano player Johnny Alderman. Snyder, looking for something because of his help, offers to take Ruth to Miami. His meaning is clear, and Ruth refuses to become his mistress.

Johnny tells Ruth that she should leave and that Martin’s help will always come with a price. Ruth insists that she needs Martin’s help for her career and can handle the relationship. Martin arranges for Ruth to become the headliner at the club and her debut is a success.

New York agent Bernard V. Loomis enter the picture and tells Martin and Ruth that he has arranged an important booking for her in the city. Martin, who has now really fallen in love with Ruth, dismisses Loomis and gets a radio show for Ruth with Johnny conducting the orchestra.

Johnny, in love with Ruth himself, suggests that Ruth get back in touch with Loomis and take advantage of the opportunity to have him represent her. Again, she refuses.

As her popularity grows, Martin now contacts Loomis himself and works with him to arrange Ruth’s debut as the star of the Ziegfield Follies. But, for Martin, New York is not Chicago. While a big man in the windy city, Martin gets no respect in the Big Apple.

Violence follows, and although Ruth marries Martin out of a feeling of obligation, it is a doomed scenario. Heartbreak leads to Ruth drinking heavily and although Martin has put together a movie deal for her, she is uninterested.

That is until she receives a phone call from Johnny who tells her he will be working on the film with her. Trouble brews when Martin secretly comes to watch a show and picks up on the sparks between Ruth and Johnny.

NOTABLE: Love Me or Leave Me won the Oscar for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story, and received nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role (James Cagney), Best Writing, Screenplay, Best Music, Original Song (I’ll’ Never Stop Loving You”), Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture, and Best Sound, Recording.

Doris Day was cast in the role of Ruth Etting at the suggestion of James Cagney to producer Joe Pasternak.

Jane Russell turned down the opportunity to play the lead, hoping to play the role of Lillian Roth in I’ll Cry Tomorrow.” Susan Hayward ended up with that role leaving Russell with neither part.

MGM reportedly wanted Ava Gardner for the role, but she too turned it down not wanting to be dubbed again as she was in Show Boat.

The Columbia Records soundtrack proved to be a great success for Doris Day and held the number-one spot on the Billboard record charts for 17 weeks.

James Cagney has stated that among the sixty-two film that he made, this would rank in his top five.

Some great images of Ruth Ettinger who sings the title song.

httpv://youtu.be/JB9VVTMiX1k

 

1930’s Hollywood Musicals Lift Our Spirits

Monday, March 14th, 2011

The Hollywood musical of the 1930’s provided a great deal more than just light entertainment. During and following the Great Depression, Hollywood produced a multitude of musicals that proved to be both entertaining and, more importantly, inspirational. This was a time in our nations history that presented enormous problems to the American people and their sagging spirit. The public needed an emotional lift and the Hollywood musical contributed greatly to help fill this need.

During these very difficult times, Hollywood responded to their audiences need for a “happy distraction” to what was going on around them. The Hollywood musicals of the 1930’s provided an opportunity to get away from it all for awhile and just feel good.

It’s important to understand that, despite the intense difficulties, most people of this generation did not sit around and feel sorry for themselves or blame others for their hardships. They pulled together and collectively gathered the strength necessary to put their lives back together. This took a great deal of hard work and emotional perseverance and accomplishing this task would also require periods of rest and emotional relaxation.

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G-Men

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

G Men

Tagline – Hollywood’s Most Famous Badman Joins the G-Men!

Starring – James Cagney (‘Brick’ Davis), Margaret Lindsay (Kay McCord), Ann Dvorak (Jean Morgan), Robert Armstrong (Jeff McCord), Barton MacLane (Collins), Lloyd Nolan (Hugh Farrell).

Released – May, 1935

Directed By – William Keighley

Produced By – First National Pictures

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – Law school graduate Eddie Buchanan has joined the F.B.I., whose agents, at that time, were referred to as G-Men. Eddie encourages his friend ‘Brick’ Davis, also a law school grad, to join with him.

However, Brick is not interested and hopes to make it as an honest lawyer even though he has a connection to organized crime. Gangster ‘Mac’ MacKay his financed Davis’ education with his own interests in mind.

When Buchanan is gunned down trying to arrest hood Danny Leggett, Davis changes his mind and is determined to bring the killer to justice. Davis says goodbye to both MacKay, and the singer in the gangsters nightclub Jean Morgan, who has feelings for Davis, and heads to Washington, D.C. to begin his training.

Davis immediately has friction with his instructor Jeff McCord, but also finds himself attracted to McCord’s sister Kay.

Back home, gangster MacKay has retired to a mountain lodge, and without his control, his men go on a crime rampage. Davis recognizes one of the hoods as Danny Leggett, but not yet finished with his training can only aid agent Hugh Farrell with what he knows of the gang.

Farrell and his fellow agents unsuccessful attempt to arrest Leggett leads to them being gunned down and Leggett’s escape. Jeff McCord now assumes command of the investigation and selects Davis to be a part of his team.

Additional shootout’s follow with Davis being shot, Jean Morgan being brought in for questioning, a slip that leads to the location of the gang, another wild shootout, a kidnapping, and the cold-blooded killing of Morgan. How much more of a price is to be paid before justice is served?

NOTABLE: G-Men received an Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Original Story as a write-in nominee.

The production of G-Men was a deliberate attempt to counter the popularity of crime/gangster films made in the early 1930’s. Political and business leaders felt these pictures did too much to glorify the gangster lifestyle.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation opened its real-life training center the same year as this motion picture was released.

Director of the F.B.I., J. Edgar Hoover, personally approved the script for this film.

This film marked the screen debut for actor Lloyd Nolan.

Initially, agents were unarmed when conducting their duties, but after two notorious shootouts, the Kansas City Massacre, which was an attack on F.B.I. agents during the transportation of a prisoner, in which an agent, three policemen, and the prisoner were killed, and the 1934 battle between agents and the infamous John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson lead to a change in the law allowing agents to be armed.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kj_E1YUrkqI