Hard-drinking racecar champ James Cagney (as Joe Greer) doesn't want hero-worshiping kid brother Eric Linden (as Eddie Greer) to join in any reindeer games. But, during a visit home, Mr. Cagney learns young Linden has been following in his brother's footsteps. Linden has become a racing enthusiast, with his own hot rod. Although Cagney is worried about risks of death or injury, he admires Linden's skill behind the wheel, and consents to take him on the circuit.
Linden becomes a professional success; and, despite Cagney's attempts to protect him from booze and women, Linden finds both with leggy Joan Blondell (as Anne Scott). His brother's seduction results in Cagney having a falling out with mistress Ann Dvorak (as Lee Merrick), who wants Cagney to quit the dangerous sport, and marry her.
Interestingly, the script identifies the appeal of racing (and this picture) twice, as "watching for wrecks and roaring for blood." Probably, 1932 audiences were more entertained than insulted. Cagney and the cast perform spectacularly, considering the weakness of material.
****** The Crowd Roars (4/16/32) Howard Hawks ~ James Cagney, Eric Linden, Joan Blondell, Ann Dvorak
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