25 November 2006 | MartinHafer
Jimmy is just too unlikable and cocky--even when compared to other Cagney films of the era
In practically every Jimmy Cagney film of the early through mid 1930s, he plays a fast-talking lovable jerk. However, in this film, he is so obnoxious and so pugnacious that the character actually crosses an invisible line for me--to being unlikable and even ridiculous. This is saying a lot because I generally love Cagney films and will put up with a lot from his loud-mouthed characters! In this case, he plays a guy that seems to be in court ALL THE TIME for assault. His character makes Mike Tyson's out of the ring behaviors seem restrained--he's that quick to fight. In fact, in the first half hour, he goes from one jail to another in the space of a day--he's that out of control. As a result, I kept thinking to myself that sooner or later, this character MUST be sent to prison for "hard time" instead of bouncing in and out of jail again and again. Plus, even if he never got sent away for a long stretch in prison, he should be in debt for the next 600 years due to his getting fined almost every day for fighting.
All this fighting just defies common sense--as does his behaviors when trying to woo the lady who hates his guts. He's in jail in a small town and he waits until the jailer falls asleep and lets himself out of jail so he can stalk and annoy her! And, naturally being a Hollywood film, he DOES charm the lady with his relentless and obnoxious ways! This pushiness is NOT vintage Cagney, but once again a super-obnoxious and ridiculous character--the guy once again crosses the line.
The rest of the film does get better once you get to the final third, but by then I was so irritated with this film (in particular Cagney's character), that I just wanted it all to end. This has to be among the worst Cagney films I have seen despite the improvement towards the end.