9 September 2006 | bsmith5552
Margaret Livingston, I Presume!
"G-Men" is one of the best of Warner Brothers gangster films. It casts James Cagney, known at that time for his gangster roles, on the right side of the law for a change.
Lawyer "Brick" Davis (Cagney) is a well educated lawyer with no clients. He is visited one day by an old friend Eddie Buchanan (Regis Toomey) who encourages Brick to join the Department of Justice Bureau of Investigation (soon to be named the Federal Bureau of Investigation).
When Eddie is murdered by gangster Collins (Barton MacLane), Brick decides to apply to the Department of Justice. It should be noted that in the FBI's early days they could only engage lawyers and accountants and were not permitted to carry firearms. Brick is assigned to tough laconic Jeff McCord (Robert Armstrong) who is of the opinion that Brick will never make an effective agent.
McCord and Bureau Director Bruce Gregory (Addison Richards) both believe that to be effective, the bureau needs to have national jurisdiction, be allowed to carry weapons and hire law enforcers and not lawyers.
As it turns out Brick was rescued from the street by gangster Mac McKay (William Harrigan) who took him in and provided him with his education. Brick soon demonstrates his capabilities and quickly gains the confidence of his superiors. Along the way he meets McCord's sister Kay (Margaret Lindsay) and the two fall in love. Bad girl Jean Morgan (Ann Dvorak) also has this thing for Brick.
When Collins' gang disappears, Jean is brought in for questioning and we learn that she has married Collins after Mac closed his night club. She gives Brick the lead he needs and the Bureau takes action. Collins escapes the Bureau's attack on his gang and.....................
Director William Keighley gives us one of the classic gangster movies. It changes the focus on the hero from a gangster to a law enforcement officer, but at the same time offers one of the best shoot outs of the genre.
Cagney loses nothing in his switch from the wrong to the right side of the law. He remains his usual cocky fast talking self. Armstrong in a role that usually was played by Pat O'Brien, is effective as McCord. Of the female leads, Dvorak has the best role. Lindsay is merely around as Cagney's good girl love interest. MacLane, Warners resident gangster, turns in his usual good performance as the brutish Collins.
Others in the cast include Lloyd Nolan in an early role as Brick's fellow agent, and Edward Pawley, Noel Madison, Harold Huber and Raymond Hatton as assorted gangsters.
In 1949, the film was re-released to help mark the FBI's 25th anniversary. A prologue featuring David Brian showing the film to a group of new recruits was added.
A word about the DVD commentary by film historian Richard Jewell. For someone who should know better, he makes two glaring errors regarding the cast. He identifies David Brian as Brian David and Margaret Lindsay as Margaret Livingston. I wouldn't have been surprised to have heard him call Cagney, James Pygmy or MacLane, Barton Fink. A little more thorough research Mr. Jewell.