3.5 stars out of 4. My favorite Cagney vehicle.
This is the third 1933 produced Cagney vehicle I have reviewed. Amazing how the breadth of one’s work back in the golden age could be so quickly put together. Lady Killer is pure contrivance and absolute fun.
Cagney plays a movie usher who winds up throwing in with a small time gang, who he then builds into an empire out East until it blows up and they must go run out West to escape the law. Cagney winds up broke and betrayed, only to find work as a movie extra and eventually becomes the top star in Hollywood.
If that paragraph doesn’t grab you, then stop reading here. This is the film that firmly cements the audience’s love of Cagney forever. He is at his charming best, and runs the gamut of opportunist and honest guy. And it also features more turmoil for poor Mae Clarke, who was the same actress on the receiving end of Jimmy’s grapefruit in The Public Enemy.
In addition to all the fun, there’s a nice criticism of Hollywood and the system at the time while providing a real glimpse into the workings of 1933 production that goes beyond just the stuff you can read in books. And any picture that can get Cagney to laugh at himself while riding a fake horse in full Indian chief regalia in front of back projection footage is tops in my book.
Another winner in WB’s Gangsters Vol. 3 with commentary and the always lovely night at the Movies option. Transfer is great as usual with these.