• James Cagney must have felt darned silly greasing up, donning goggles, climbing into a race car, and making dumb faces while a rear-projection Indy 500 played behind him. He's an ace driver, a daredevil on the track and a cocky alpha male, mistreating his unconditionally supportive girlfriend and attempting to steer his uninteresting younger brother away from a racing career. The script's practically a textbook of genre cliches, from the best buddy whose death-on-wheels gives our hero a guilt complex to the sibling rivalry that is mysteriously resolved, offscreen, in the last reel. Cagney's justifiably celebrated skill and charm can't make us care about this misogynistic, unlikeable blowhard, nor can it make his rapid descent into drink, vagrancy, and hunger (or equally rapid rise back to the Indy) credible. Howard Hawks was already making fast-paced, psychologically sound male-bonding flicks, but even he's flummoxed by the hoary melodramatics of this one. The ladies have little to do but play weepy-loyal (Ann Dvorak) and sarcastic-loyal (Joan Blondell), but they come off best.