User Reviews (31)

Add a Review

  • Everyone has seen Public Enemy and Yankee Doodle Dandy, but if you're a serious Cagney buff you've got to see this flick. Made in '33 it is set in that time period. Cagney gets out of the big house and goes legit, if being a paparazzi is legit. The formula is tried and true; with pluck and luck Cagney makes good. The characters are stock, on paper, but the actors breath so much personality into them that they become individuals. Though we know Cagney will prevail, we don't know just how he will succeed, and that is where the drama comes from. The pace is quick enough that you wont go to the kitchen for a sandwich without hitting the stop button first. Great acting, a good story, a happy ending, bouncy theme music, and those great cars of the 1930s. What more do you want?
  • This was great! It's vintage Cagney: tough, cocky, funny and endearing! The film is also typical early '30s: short, entertaining, fast-moving with some wild dialog and plenty of action and humor.

    Imagine the outcry today if they showed the hero pushing women around as James Cagney did here and in other films of the period. This particular story has Cagney playing "Danny Kean," an ex-con who quits his former mob and winds up at a tabloid newspaper as a member of the paparazzi! (I guess this story was ahead of it's time.) He does what he has to do get a picture for the paper, and a financial raise for his efforts.

    Along the way are several very pretty women "Pat" and "Allison" (played respectively by Patricia Ellis and Alice White); a number of sexual innuendos (which wouldn't have made it in the picture had this been made a year later); and just a fun-filled corny 1930s ride.

    I wish a bunch more of these entertaining films, especially with Cagney, were available.
  • tedg30 June 2006
    I'd like to recommend this to you for a couple reasons.

    I'm right now doing a survey of films that feature newsrooms. Its a simple sort of fold that wouldn't work today. Amazingly, right after seeing this, I saw the new "Superman Returns." Horrid little move, but it reminded me that Superman was invented in the 30s and that's why we have Lois as a reporter.

    In the 30s there were hundreds of movies set in newsrooms. Its roughly the same as a movie about the movie business, since the creation of stories and modeling of life was essentially a writer's game in that era. And the newsroom was one of the few places where women could be strong, sexy and articulate. And wow is this dripping with sex.

    In those days, women could be nurses, teachers, secretaries or whores. Or if they were particularly clever, they were reporters. It was a sort of shorthand, lost today. If your movie put you in a newsroom, it was a stage where stories were made. And to have a woman weave stories and in some way control the world. That was something.

    The story here is Cagney's typical gangster, head of a gang but imprisoned. He gets out and instead of returning to his gang, takes a job as a reporter. Actually — to make the folding good — as a photographer, hence the title. You can pretty much guess the story, knowing that he is both ruthless in invading lives and sweet on the daughter of the cop who "sent him up."

    Here's the really interesting part: the sexy, precode blond is a reporter in the same pool. She's the girl of Cagney's boss but hot for Cagney. He's being chased by another broad too. To both he's mean, but the encounters with them are directly sexual.

    Its odd. We see her as distinctly available, a silly blond. But we also know she is a crackerjack mind underneath. One scene: Cagney by subterfuge has obtained a picture of the execution of a murderess. He is chased all over town but makes it to the newsroom just under deadline. Breathlessly, he dictates the story to our sexy blond to type. He speaks in blunt gangster slang and we laugh at the notion that such a description would appear in the paper.

    She types furiously, then the editor reads it aloud and it is three times as long, cleverly and articulately written. Big joke. No one notices. Bigger joke.

    Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
  • jotix10024 June 2005
    James Cagney, who was always so intense, as the 'bad guy' in most of his movies, seems to be having a great time in "Picture Snatcher', this 1933 film directed by Lloyd Bacon.

    In fact, Danny Kean, is first seen being released from jail, after serving three years, but he has had enough of the crime life. He tells his criminal friends he wants out. Not knowing what to do, he decides to try his hand at photo journalism by applying to be a news photographer at the Graphic News. The friendly editor, Al Mclean, decides to give him a break.

    Thus begins Danny's adventures as a news photographer that gets the right picture, at the right moment for his paper. He also finds happiness with Pat, the lovely daughter of a friendly policeman. At the same time, he is being the object of a co-worker's desire, something he wants no part of, since he has decided to go straight.

    The great James Cagney is a joy to watch in the film. He was a charismatic actor that is always excellent no matter what he did. Another surprise is Ralph Bellamy, who played the editor that decides to give the ex-con a break. The lovely Patricia Ellis is the object of Danny's affections. Alice White plays a bad girl that wants to get Danny for herself.

    The film will not disappoint fans of Mr. Cagney for the change of pace it represented and the fun one gets by watching it.
  • As usual James Cagney provides nothing short of his usual high standard, in this light comedy/drama with a dark edge. Seeming more relevant now, especially with all the recent scandals involving the paparazzi and it's stars, this movie takes the usual 'Cagney' structure. He starts out a broke bad boy on the ropes, but with his wiley charm and dodgy dealings, does good. Cagney is impossible to hate, even when, as in this movie he becomes as obnoxious as ever. In particular the scene in which the Fireman, comes to find the man who got his picture on the front page. It is in scenes like this, that Cagney shows his deft comic touch, something so under-used in his long and prestigious career. In short The Picture Snatcher, is well worth an hour and a half of anyones time. Although by no means Cagney's best, it still holds up well against an 'Accidental Hero'. Enjoy!!!
  • Frantic, fast-paced film of ex-con Cagney getting a job at a local scandal sheet working for Bellamy and producing exclusive photographs for the paper. First he poses as an insurance adjuster to steal a photo, then through chicanery he manages to obtain a forbidden photo of a woman in the electric chair. Satisfying story conclusion has Cagney getting the girl and Bellamy playing the chump--again.

    This film moves like lightning, guided along by Cagney's seemingly inexhaustible energy. Lots of snappy dialog, great acting, and fine direction make this quite a little gem. Great 1930s feel, and watch quickly for Sterling Holloway (wearing outrageous glasses!) as a journalism student. Highly recommended.
  • At seventy-seven minutes in length, "Picture Snatcher" contains just enough action and comedy to support this little trifle.

    Cagney is terrific as a former mobster who gets released from prison and tries to make a go of it as a photographer for a local newspaper rag, which is edited by Ralph Bellamy.

    This film is from the first scene, where Cagney shows affection for the guards and warden, has a ridiculous story line all the way thru to the end. But it moves along at a breakneck pace and has several very good performances, so although we might know it's ridiculous, we really don't care.

    Alice White is terrific as a gun moll on the make for Cagney. Bellamy is good as Cagney's drunken editor.

    But the film belongs to Cagney, who turns in another terrific, under - appreciated performance.

    7 out of 10
  • Paroled convict James Cagney is determined not to return to a life of crime and decides to go to straight. He wants to get into journalism, but the only place that will hire him is the Graphic Record, the National Enquirer of its day. And not as a reporter, but as a picture snatcher. Now we would call Cagney a papparazzi.

    Still and all it's a job and Cagney is pretty resourceful at getting sensational pictures. He photographs an electric chair execution and his ruthlessness gets his girlfriend's father in some heat. But later on he redeems himself with his knowledge of the criminal underworld.

    Considering at where papparazzi are in the social pecking order these days, the viewer of Picture Snatcher is left to wonder just how legitimate Cagney has gone. Joe Pesci almost sixty years after Picture Snatcher was done did a period piece called The Public Eye which explored the same concerns. I think the viewer would like both films and Picture Snatcher if they are Cagney fans.
  • Have enjoyed all Cagney movies and thought I had seen them all until I viewed this film on TV. James Cagney tries to go straight after getting out of prison and has a great desire to become a photographer; he loves to smell like a rose in this picture and is depicted taking a bath in the tub while his gangster friends pour in the LAVENDER, he remarks to his friends, "Is this the same perfume that those two(2) gals had on in the car?" Ralph Bellamy,"Rosemary's Baby" '68 gives a great supporting role as a drunk newspaper man and Patricia Ellis(I) "Back Door to Heaven"'39 gives the romance Cagney is looking for. In 1933, money was hard to come by after the Great Depression and actors had to make a living in any picture that came their way. This is a great CAGNEY CLASSIC and in NO WAY should it be PICK APART!! Just sit back and enjoy a great American Irish ACTOR!!!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    How anyone can give this move less than 10 stars is beyond me. This movie has everything you could possibly ask for in a pre-code classic. Part gangster movie. Part prison movie. Part newspaper movie. Lots of great fast talking banter. An electric chair scene – the condemned a woman no less. Car chases. Car crashes. Machine guns. Children dodging bullets. Jealousy, rage, retribution. And dames-a-plenty (more on that later).

    Jimmy Cagney is at his absolute best as an ex-con who tries to go straight as a newspaper photographer at a less than reputable daily rag. Although he officially quit the old gang, Cagney uses his criminal instincts to get the shot (photo that is) that nobody else seems to be able to get. In the meantime, he falls for cute-as-a-button college girl, Patricia Ellis, whose father is a policeman – the same policeman that previously put Jimmy away for three years. No problem, Cagney gets Dad promoted to Captain and, temporarily at least, all is good.

    The women in this picture (except for good girl Ellis) throw themselves at Cagney with reckless abandon and with absolutely one thing on their mind. Nobody even tries to pretend otherwise. Alice White, who plays one of Cagney's colleagues at the paper, is incredible as one of Cagney's many seductresses. She has to be seen to be believed. Alice Jans, an old girlfriend from Cagney's mob days, is another beast. Cagney literally carries her into the bedroom (she practically orders him to do so), until Cagney finally beats it.

    To say this move was racy for 1933 is an understatement. Heck, it's racy for 2011!

    A must see.
  • This is a rather strange early Code film that features Jimmy Cagney as a sleazy ex-con who now devotes his energies to taking pictures for newspapers. But, given his larcenous nature, he specializes in getting the pictures no one else would dare take due to good taste! For example, at an execution, he insinuates himself into the prison as a witness to the execution and snaps a photo surreptitiously--getting his paper a big scoop on the competition. While Cagney's character is sleazy, he is also rather likable in the usual plucky and swaggering way the public learned to expect during the 1930s. However, in the film, all this bravado and lack of good taste eventually came to haunt him--after all, who would want a boyfriend or husband like that?! An interesting curio that is both entertaining and original.
  • Picture Snatcher (1933)

    A fast, pre-code romp, really fun. Cagney movies are so blazing in general, from his fast talking style and his frenetic body movements, this is terrific. It's not a gangster flick, though there are traces of that (he comes out of jail in the first scene), but it has the trappings of the end of Prohibition and all the fun of the cars and the times.

    There are a number of interesting characters in addition to Cagney, sassy and chipper and really bright. The plot is crazy, really, with all kinds of rivalries among the thugs, the cops, the newsmen, and the women. There are some terrific newspaper scenes (like the lead typesetting machines, used for love notes by Cagney and his girl), but the title refers to Cagney's turn at being photojournalist. They don't show him in action much, but there is a key scene where he photographs a woman being killed in the electric chair. And he does it the same way the same kind of picture was taken in 1928 of Ruth Snyder at Sing Sing, the camera hidden on the photographer's calf, and the pant leg lifted at the time of the electrocution. The camera appears to be an American made Ansco, a slightly cruder version of the new small Leica style miniature camera hitting the market in the late 1920s.

    But in fact photography plays a small role here. This is a movie about Cagney being his frenetic best, and that's what makes it great. I would say don't miss it. It's sweet, sassy, fun, and surprising.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ....and with James Cagney at his crazy cocky best that is very hard to do!!! Unfortunately her type of role, indeed this type of movie would become extinct the next year when the dreaded production code came into force.

    Like Robinson, Cagney loved to kid his "tough guy" persona. Here he plays Danny Kean, a tough crook who promises himself he does not want to go back "inside" again so decides to go straight and follow his child- hood dream of being a reporter. He is given a "letter of introduction" to the editor of the Graphic News - a dirty rag at the bottom of the newspaper heap!! The editor, JR (Ralph Bellamy) takes a shine to Danny,but unfortunately has a drinking problem. Another person who takes a shine to Danny is flirty Alison (Alice White) - she throws herself at Danny at every opportunity - and he throws himself at her as well. She is probably the recipient of more thrown punches than anyone else in this movie. The scenes between them are exactly what I think a sexy pre-coder should be. In one scene when Danny is hiding out, Alison comes home and immediately starts changing into something more comfortable. There is no false modesty about her, no discreetly closed doors and Danny's reaction says it all.Cagney's expressions throughout are priceless - at one point he goes through a whole scene (wanting to be alone with his girl) with just his facial expressions. The girl, the right girl, is Pat - Patricia Ellis was very sweet but to me she just looked awfully young (she was only 16).

    Back to the story, Danny is relegated to being a picture snatcher as he has no experience at reporting and finds that his pugnacious personality can get him into situations were other more wary news hounds fear to tread. His first assignment has him accosting a fireman, mad with grief that his wife (and her lover) have been killed in a house fire. Danny covers his tracks by posing as a fire assessor. His next job is trickier and if he pulls it off he and the paper will be made - he has to try and get a picture of the execution of a condemned woman. This ghoulish assignment was based on real events. In 1927 Ruth Snyder was sentenced to the electric chair for the murder of her husband (it was the inspiration for "Double Indemnity"), a photographer from the Chicago Tribune took a photo with the aid of a miniature camera strapped to his ankle and the picture made headlines around the world. Danny gets the scoop but finds that his old sparring partner Officer Nolan has been demoted. Pat is his daughter and he has put his reputation on the line by vouching for Danny. Danny redeems himself by being on the spot when "Jerry the Mug" (Ralf Harolde) is gunned down and giving all the kudos to Nolan!!!

    The last scene is a doozy!! Alison (who is really much better suited to Danny than insipid Pat) uses her whiles on Danny once too often, Danny puts her in a coma in the back seat, JR drives off, not knowing Alison is there, she awakes, clangs JR on the head, he drives into a pole and the last shot is of Alison screaming her head off!!! Definitely a movie not to be missed. I was surprised to see Ralph Bellamy as Cagney's side kick, as actors they were poles apart (but apparently great pals in real life) but their characters blended so well, Bellamy playing with his usual laid back understatedness.

    Highly Recommended.
  • Picture Snatcher (1933)

    *** (out of 4)

    Fast paced, hard hitting drama from Warner Bros. has a gangster (James Cagney) being released from prison when he decides to go straight and gets a job for a tabloid newspaper as a cameraman. Everything is going fine until he breaks all the rules to take a picture of a woman in the electric chair. This is a pretty interesting film especially today when there's so much controversy surrounding tabloid photographers so I guess this new trend was around back in the day as well. Cagney is energetic as ever and Ralph Bellamy delivers a strong performance as the alcoholic editor. A good little pre-code that, according to the Robert Osbourne intro, was made because Warner wanted a gangster picture but due to all the controversy surrounding them, put Cagney in as the photographer.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The entire premise of "Picture Snatcher" is pretty weak, but put Jimmy Cagney in the lead role and you have the makings of an entertaining flick. Cagney shows all the energy and grit that made him a star as early as the 1930's, and here he's top billed as a former mobster going straight as of all things, a tabloid photographer and reporter for "Graphic News", described by journalism student Sterling Holloway as a 'filthy blot on American writing'. That pretty much sums it up, as Danny Kean (Cagney) uses all the street smarts and professional contacts he can muster to get the latest scoop.

    Before I ever saw the picture, I wondered what the term 'picture snatcher' might mean, and I guess I was pretty close. The story makes it clear that the job had to do with getting photos of down and out people who can't fight back, and in that regard, Cagney's character is a whiz. His very first job involved stealing a wedding picture of a couple that made front page news when the bride was caught cheating by her fireman husband. Stories like that wouldn't even raise an eyebrow today, but it sure looked sensational back in the day. We've come quite a way in seventy plus years.

    You know, I was curious about that invitation to an execution angle that revolved around the death of an inmate at the State Prison at Ossining, New York. The letter Danny Kean steals from a fellow reporter mentioned 'Sing Sing' by name in the letterhead; I wonder if that was for real. New Yorkers like myself, especially those from Westchester County will have fun with the place names and street addresses mentioned in the story. The harder part is trying to visualize them as they might have been back in the Thirties.

    It was way back in 1931's "Public Enemy" that Cagney gained notoriety for that grapefruit smackeroo in the kisser against Mae Clark. If anything, he's even rougher here sending Alice White flying into a chair using her face as a launch pad, and knocking her out and flipping her into the back seat of a car when his 'real' girlfriend (Patricia Ellis) approaches. Then of course there's all the sexual innuendo and banter that's strictly pre-code; how about "Keep in step, bedroom eyes". I had to rewind that one to be sure I heard it right.

    All in all, the whole tenor of the story is pretty unrealistic, even if you get past the part where Danny tells his mob he's going legit. But even so, it's vintage Cagney and that's good for something. Without him, the picture wouldn't even garner enough IMDb votes to give it much more than a five rating, but put the wise cracking hoofer in the lead and that's good enough for bonus points!
  • This is a fab Little film even though i detest the media of today, this film nails it.

    Again its Cagney coming from being a criminal to being the good boy and throw in the odd Blonde and a few cheeky laughs and your there. Cagney actually falls for a pretty dark haired girl but bad news....her father is a local cop who has had run ins with Cagney in the past and so he has to work him round. As a picture snatcher he has to go all out to get that one great scoop and beat the competition and he does this several times and with hes cheeky smiles and giggles he make it up the ladder.

    There is also a usual fall back during the film where Cagney's character falls from grace and has to be pulled out of the puddle and the love story ends well.

    You can't help but love Cagney as he has that cheeky little nature about him we all love, be it as a Gangster or womaniser he brings an electric buzz to the screen and keeps it pretty up there pulling us in.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Glad I saw this pre-code Cagney film. As usual, Jimmy was more than alive, with his rapid thinking, speech and action, bringing comedy as well as drama to the screen. True, the plot is sometimes rather trite, but the actors make up for that deficiency.

    Jimmy, as Danny, is being discharged from Sing Sing, initially heading for his old gang, of which he is the leader. But, they're surprised when he tells them he's quitting the gang and going straight. He wants to be a newspaper reporter. The only local newspaper that might take him is the gossipy Graphic News.

    Danny's first assignment is to grab a picture of a distraught fireman, who has barricaded himself in his house, with a shot gun to keep people away. Danny sneaks in the back way and introduces himself as the insurance adjuster for the fire that partially burned down the house. Danny steals his wedding picture, which is acceptable to accompany the news article on the man. So, he's labeled a picture snatcher.(So, why didn't they just give him a camera??).

    Danny is rewarded by being made photojournalist for the paper. His next assignment is even more challenging: Sneaking a camera into Sing Sing to take a picture of the first execution of a woman by the electric chair. No cameras are allowed, but Danny has one tied to his ankle, with a cable leading to his waist. This was essentially a reenactment of a similar trick used at the historic first execution of a woman(Ruth Snyder)by the electric chair. He passes this test.

    His third 'assignment', after he quite this newspaper, is to capture or photograph the leader of his old gang: Jerry, the Mug. Dan guesses correctly where Jerry is hiding out after killing 2 policemen in a robbery. He enters his apartment, a few floors up(Just walked in?). Jerry has a bunch of firearms, but Danny convinces him that he's on his side. Somehow, the police were tipped off where he was, and a police raid soon materializes. Jerry shoots at the cops, but they have much greater firepower, making his apartment look like Swiss cheese. Eventually, they kill him, without harming Danny. Danny takes a picture of Jerry as he is falling and after he fell. He hopes some newspaper will buy his photos, and maybe give him a job. Danny tells the police that he was with Jerry as an undercover agent for policeman Casey, who goes along with this lie.

    Two women become involved with Danny. Pat(Patricia Ellis) is one of several journalism students who visit the Graphic News. Danny is immediately attracted and asks her for a date. Her father, policeman Casey, catches them making out in the hall, and recognizes Danny as the gangster he shot and arrested, resulting in his stay at Sing Sing. He doesn't want his daughter dating such a guy. Throughout the film, Danny occasionally does something that pleases or disturbs Casey, with repercussions on his relationship with Pat. Clearly, Pat is typecast as the "good" girl, in contrast to Allison(Alice White) as the bubbly, knockout blond floozy, but who happens to be the girlfriend of Danny's boss and pal Al(Ralph Bellamy). She soon takes a liking to Danny, as the new dynamic "kid" in the office. She arranges for Danny and herself to be alone in her apartment. She literally throws herself on Danny, kissing, hugging, etc. Wow, some scorching hot chick! Only in pre-code Hollywood would this scene be allowed!.. Patricia Ellis was only 17, while Alice White was nearly 30, though she seemed younger.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Available on an excellent Warner DVD, this is one of Cagney's best films. It moves fast, it moves fresh and it moves daringly, challenging authority figures and authority stances all the way. The dialogue is brisk and natural, with plenty of wisecracks and lots of daring characterizations. The plot turns are likewise original and natural, and despite their fast-moving pace, are easy to follow. Only in one or two cases, does the character played by Ralph Bellamy spend too much time explaining the score for the benefit of three or four dumb- bells in the audience. Otherwise, it's speed, speed, speed with plenty of changes of scene and unexpected plot developments – all delivered at a super-brisk pace by director Lloyd Bacon, of all people! Until Picture Snatcher came my way I always regarded Bacon as a competent but totally undistinguished craftsman, True, he did direct Cain and Mabel (1936) and that is a terrific movie, but most critics (including stupid me) ascribe its success to Marion Davies – a gal who really knew what she wanted and how to get it!
  • blanche-29 June 2015
    Warning: Spoilers
    Jimmy Cagney stars in "Picture Snatcher," a 1933 film also starring Ralph Bellamy. Cagney is a prisoner who is finally released and impresses the editor of a tabloid-type newspaper with the photo he's able to get of a murder victim. He is hired.

    This precode has lots of sexual innuendo, loose women, physical abuse against women - you know, all the stuff of precode.

    Cagney is terrific in this fast-moving film that really shows his talents. In one scene, he manages to get back into prison to witness an execution. He's sitting down, one leg crossed at a 90 degree angle over the other, and when the execution begins, he quietly pulls up his pant leg and there's a camera attached to his ankle. Very funny scene.

    What makes the character great is that yes, he was in prison, yes, he lies his way in to get these tabloid photos, but he has a heart, which he finally realizes and acts on.

    I saw someone interviewed who said he was working in a restaurant and a hobo-like man came in wearing an old trenchcoat. It was Jimmy Cagney, probably trying not to be recognized. Whoever was being interviewed said he was the sweetest man he'd ever met in his life. Look at all the low- down guys he played.

    He was definitely worthy of the devotion of my father when he was a boy - he went to see Midsummer Night's Dream because Cagney was in it.

  • Ex-con Danny Kean (James Cagney) becomes a successful newspaper photographer by getting the pictures nobody else can because he's not afraid to take risks. He falls for a dame who turns out to be the daughter of the policeman that arrested him years before. So naturally Pops isn't pleased. But he is convinced by Danny's boss (Ralph Bellamy) that Danny has changed for the better. That is until the ambitious Danny does something that lands him in trouble and turns his boss, his girlfriend, and her father against him.

    Another of the many entertaining, fast-paced films Jimmy Cagney did in the '30s. Whether they were gangster pictures, comedies, war movies, or anything else, Cagney always delivered. Nice support from Ralph Bellamy, Robert Barrat, Alice White, and Patricia Ellis. Some punchy dialogue and humor helps keep this crime drama moving. Cagney fans will love it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Fast, frantic and funny. Danny Kean(James Cagney)is a gangster released from the big house and he is determined to go straight. He lands a job with a sleazy New York tabloid using disregard and aggression to capture controversial pictures to please his boss(Robert Barrat). The city editor(Ralph Bellamy) gets props for hiring the ex-con. Along the way Danny falls in love with Patricia(Patricia Ellis), who just so happens to be the daughter of the policeman, Casey Logan(Robert Emmett O'Connor),that actually arrested him and still carries some of Danny's lead. Director Lloyd Bacon catches Cagney possibly at his finest and funniest; and may just be considered an overlooked gem for the actor. Alice White plays Allison, who would love to be Danny's girl and Ralf Harolde plays Jerry the Mug, the subject of a big money shot.

    Note: This movie was inspired by an infamous photo of a convicted murderess being put to death by electrocution at Sing Sing Prison.
  • Lloyd Bacon directed this brisk drama that stars Jimmy Cagney as Danny Kean, an ex-convict turned newspaper photographer who isn't afraid to go the extra distance to get a dangerous or controversial photo. He falls in love with Patricia, daughter of the police officer who first arrested him! This relationship is used by Kean to get a much sought-after photo of a woman's execution, which ruins the romance, though Kean's boss Mclean(played by Ralph Bellamy) does what he can to help, and Kean goes back in action after an old friend becomes wanted by the police... Good yarn with appealing performances and well-paced direction. Cagney is in his element here, and film is entertaining.
  • This is the kind of hard-hitting Warner crime caper that the studio turned out on an assembly line basis in the '30s and '40s--and since it's pre-code, lots of sexual innuendo and kissing scenes that wouldn't get past the censor a year or so later.

    It's the age-old story of a convict trying to go straight and all the obstacles thrown into his path. Cagney is the ex-con who decides to quit the gang for a straight job on a newspaper. When he manages to snatch a photo off the wall of a man and woman whose marriage was destroyed by a tragic fire, the city editor (Ralph Bellamy) gets him a job as a photo reporter. From there on, the story is full of dames, booze, action-packed moments and plenty of shenanigans performed by the energetic Cagney who lights up the screen whenever he appears. Alice White is the brassy blonde that he keeps giving the cold shoulder to and Patricia Ellis is the nice gal whose father doesn't want Cagney around his daughter.

    The newspaper office scenes look pretty convincing except for the moment when Cagney dictates his story to a girl using a typewriter who takes his street talk description and translates it into suitable newspaper lingo in a jiffy. Only in the movies.

    It's the kind of yarn that put Cagney on the map during the '30s and is as fast moving and entertaining as any other crime film he was associated with, but not as polished as his big-time films "Angles with Dirty Faces" or "White Heat."
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is the iconic Jimmy Cagney of 1933, the one the impressionists used to imitate. He whirls around, dances from place to place, shrugs, gestures flamboyantly, tilts his fedora at a rakish angle, clips guys on the jaw, throws women around, speaks like a machine gun and spouts wisecracks like a gusher of oil. "Yeah, yeah. Sure, you're my pal. I'm gonna letchu have it foist." He rarely got credit for his range as an actor, either in dramatic roles, as in "The Gallant Hours", or comic, as in "What Price Glory?" Recently sprung from Sing Sing, Cagney worms his way into the job as a photographer for a tabloid newspaper in New York. He accomplishes this by visiting a grief-stricken fireman who has holed up with a shotgun, then stealing the man's wedding picture from the wall. That's the wall over the bed in which the fireman's wife was found with her lover, both dead.

    The photo is published and Cagney gets a raise, although in fact his taking the photo from the man's home was an illegal act. The picture doesn't need to be copyrighted or anything. It's the personal property of the bereaved fireman, just like his chair or his five-dollar bill. I'd like to get into this issue further but I'm forbidden to do so by legal discretion, common sense, and total ignorance.

    Cagney's pal on the paper is the alcoholic newsman Ralph Bellamy, ashamed of himself for working on such a rag, chasing scandals.

    There is a romance thrown in between Cagney and the daughter of a police lieutenant. The cop hates Cagney, an ex jailbird, figuring he's not good enough for a daughter who is going to college. (Going to college was hardly taken for granted in the depths of the Great Depression.) Cagney wiggles and fast-talks his way out of one tight spot after another and winds up with the high-class dame. Bellamy quits boozing it up. After witnessing a spectacular shoot out, the two of them get respectable jobs at a respectable newspaper.

    There is more than one improbability in the plot but before you can say, "Wait a minute!", the story has zipped along and you've forgotten what your objection was. What a tempo! Not a moment of screen time is wasted. Something that propels the story is always going on.

    It's undemanding fluff. An experienced hack at Warner Brothers could have rattled off this script in the time it took to type it. But it's diverting fluff. The plot may not be exactly compelling but Cagney is. You can't take your eyes off the guy. Neither can the women. Alice White keeps throwing herself at him, kissing and mauling his face. It happens to me all the time but it's a little demanding on our suspension of disbelief because, after all, Cagney was no matinée idol and was shorter than I am. I wouldn't buy the DVD but I enjoyed watching the flick.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    " . . . chair?" the White House Pool Reporters' representatives playing their parts about 45 minutes into Warner Bros.' prophetic PICTURE SNATCHER idly speculate as they wait for the biggest stinkers of the odoriferous Rump\Scents Administration to be Drowned in Cages during a Live Two-Hour Reality Show Special Event HIGH TREASON APPRENTICE: TRAITORS AWAY! Warner Bros.' prognosticators of America's (Then) Far Future remind us that when Kellyanne & Co. go down for the Final Count, it's imperative to stream their watery demises to a Worldwide Live Audience, so that the Deplorable Rump\Scents Enablers won't argue that this Mass Liquidation is "Fake News" like Evolution, the Moon Landings, Global Warming, Dinosaurs, 9-11, The Ten Commandments, and The Gospels. PICTURE SNATCHER predicts that SOME of Red Commie KGB Chief Vlad "The Mad Russian" Putin's Rich People Party Fifth Columnists will meet their doom fighting in hails of gunfire, such as the Traitor-in-Chief's son-in-law, "Jerry-the-Mug" Kushner. Hopefully, the Real Life S.W.A.T. team will be as successful as the cops here in PICTURE SNATCHER in thwarting Jerry's use of his wife and kiddies as Human Shields, because where will we be without First Daughter Iwanna's Fashion Line?
An error has occured. Please try again.