10 July 2000 | grendel-37
I've seen just about everything there is to see in the world of Cinema. I've seen Rouben Mamoulian, 68years ago, create the definitive monster movie, I've seen Pekinpah's Wild Bunch go out in slo mo glory, I've seen Chow Yun Fat bleed his way through two hours, I've seen Cagney go out in a white heat at the top of the world, I've seen Belafonte lay Odds Against Tomorrow. I had honestly thought I had run out of surprises, I had seen everything worth seeing.
I was wrong.
I picked up, pretty much because of reviews I read here, this movie KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE. A little nothing, throwaway flick, that was done on the heels of Cagney's wildly popular WHITE HEAT, and was pretty much ignored upon release. It's said Cagney disliked the idea of doing another gangster picture. Thank goodness he decided to do it anyway, because this movie... out and out floored me!
It's hard to call a movie from 50years ago brutal, and justify it. However that's just what this movie is, deep in the bone, teeth rattling, brutal. In a world of Scorcese and Coppola Gangster riffs, Hong Kong Cinema, Slasher movies, and the nightly news it's hard to account for this movies impact.
There's nothing tangible in this movie, in a world of shock cinema, that one could call shocking. But yet... this movie has power, and energy, and yes a sense of brutality that blows away any dozen modern movies full of blood, or body parts.
This movies appeal is difficult to explain, but I guess if you had to sum it up in three words, it would be Cagney...CAGney...CAGNEY!!!
Today's movies for all their CGI brilliance lack the type of center, and ,if you like, romanticism that actors like Cagney and Bogart and Raft, and directors like Raoul Walsh, and in this case Gordon Douglass, brought to the table. Particularly in the hard-boiled flicks, a menace that was somehow felt, rather than seen, and therefore more powerful.
I could go on, but all you need to know is that this movie in a world that has forgotten it, outgrown it, outbled it, is the finest of its breed. Better than those that came before, superior to those that came after. It is the quintessential Gangster Pic. Highest Recommendation!
p.s. And I have to mention, I thought the courtroom scenes were well done and necessary, and everyone turned in great performances, especially the beautiful Holiday Carleton as Barbara Payton, who becomes Cagney's reluctant partner in crime. Cagney turning in his most ferocious and seductive performance, is matched by Holiday. Her tension, and wild lilting ferocity and fear, burning through the movie like a fuse, until it explodes! Mesmerizing!! A must see movie!