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  • I worked at the post-production house in new york city when this film was shot and edited. We saw the dailies of it as it was being shot and also worked on it while it was being edited. The entire film was completed with Cagney's actual (heavily stroke inflected) speaking voice. It was decided by the producers to replace the entire Cagney dialogue with Rich Little's impersonation. I can attest to the fact that the original film, with Cagney's own voice, was an excellent and powerful little film, that I would have given a rating of 10 stars to. Unfortunately, the really bad decision to dub Cagney's voice with this awful impersonation (which sounded like the voice in the old "Vlassic Pickles" TV commercials) pretty much ruined what would have been a memorable movie. I wish to this day I had somehow been able to obtain a copy of the original version! Still worth seeing as it is Cagney's last film, and Carney and Barkin are excellent. Basically though, another instance of too many producer-cooks ruining the stew.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a great movie, and for a lot of different reasons. I've read the comments from the naysayers on this board, and it's too bad modern tastes have become so jaded as to dismiss a film that relies on values instead of shoot 'em ups. If I hadn't read that James Cagney was dubbed for his dialog in the story, I never would have known; give the guy some credit, he was eighty four years old when he made the movie. Wheelchair bound or not, I thought it was an exceptional performance.

    Oddly I had never even heard of the movie until reviewing Cagney's film credits, and I managed to source a DVD copy through a private collector. If you listen closely enough, you'll take away two great pearls of wisdom from Terrible Joe - age reduces everything, and you can make a rock out of glass if you really want it bad enough. That rock in turn becomes a diamond by the end of the picture, and will elicit the same response as Cagney's finale in "Angels With Dirty Faces", but for a different reason.

    Some great surprises here - the first sit up and take notice scene was Floyd Patterson appearing as himself, only to be followed by one of the greatest self promoters of all time, New York Mayor Ed Koch as just that, a boxing promoter! He's only on screen for a short time, and you'll wonder if that's really him or not.

    As for the story, you might expect it to dissolve into cliché once it gets under way, but there are enough twists to keep you focused. As Joe Moran's granddaughter, Ellen Barkin grows into the role as the movie progresses, and her character develops as a result of her involvement with boyfriend Nick (Peter Gallagher) and the book deal with Poppa. As Moran's best friend Troy, Art Carney also holds a few keys of wisdom that he shares with Ronnie (Barkin) and the viewer. Cagney and Carney - funny how they're separated by one letter, but they show that they're pros in scene after scene.

    Listen, if you're a Cagney fan, you owe yourself a viewing of his swan song performance as Terrible Joe Moran. You won't come away feeling sorry for him as some would have it; quite the opposite, you'll get a warm feeling for one of the greatest actors of all time.

    NOTE**** The boxing scenes of young Joe Moran are from Jimmy Cagney's 1940 film, "City for Conquest".
  • Those who think it a tripe and shallow movie are too young to remember when families were real and full of love, truth and morality. Ellen Barkin holds her own with the powerful cast of James Cagney and Art Carney. The film brings back reality of what true love and family means.The comedy and one liners are great.
  • kols7 April 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    Saw this when it first aired and then again as a re-run sometime later, not sure precisely when. Both viewings were little treats.

    The plot is simple and has been a staple of books and movies for well over a century: an aged and disillusioned recluse regains his or her humanity through the unexpected and, initially unwelcome, intrusion of an either troubled or in-trouble (or both) waif of some sort. Anybody out there ever heard of Heidi, Scrooge, Silas Marner or Pollyanna?

    This working of the theme is both honest and touching as both characters work through their various layers of protection and come to value one another as individuals, quietly and without melodrama. If it ever surfaces again I'll be watching and strongly recommend others do so as well.

    As for the other reviews - the dubbing went past me as well and it certainly didn't affect my opinion of Cagney's performance. I can understand an insider's opinion on the matter but my perspective is that of a consumer: if the final product works, that's the product I'll buy.

    And if you expected a "Jimmy Cagney" Movie, why? Cagney was in his 80's and well past his hoofer and Bad Boy days. As always, review the movie on the screen.

    As for myself, If it does ever resurface, I'll record and archive it on a DVD, prizing it as a little gem.
  • bkoganbing30 April 2004
    If James Cagney had been in good health this would have been a good film. Even if he had to play the role in a wheelchair we would have seen the incredible Cagney bounce at work.

    It's a nice story the rest of the cast gives good performances. But the whole time you're watching this, you're thinking of Jimmy Cagney dancing off the wall in Yankee Doodle Dandy or shooting it out on the run in the finale of The Roaring Twenties or even that non-stop frenetic pace of One Two Three. And to see him in this wheelchair barely able to say his dialog is painful to watch. I understand that Rich Little was brought in to dub what the microphone couldn't pick up.

    No James Cagney fan should have to see this.
  • This was a warm movie about real life. Cagney, Carney and Barkin did an outstanding job of portraying the great generation gap and how it CAN come together. Those who did not like this movie probably like a lot of violence and sex in movies.Those people are typical of this day and age...what a shame.

    How do we buy a copy of this movie ? We have looked everywhere and it is not available - WHY ?????????
  • a reviewer here says the producers had a chance to let the real Cagney voice come through > I hope he meant that SOME of JG's warbling penetrated! geeesh!! another reason for my less than "10" review is that no one apparently thought enough to write in some funny business between Cagney and Carney > something! even if Art did his hesitation bit (signing a document, you remember).

    having said all that > we have a fine film here, especially a Made-For-TV movie, back in the days when a good one was not really expected! a good script really counts, as two loners - estranged relatives who battle (one in the ring) and one (with herself and psychologically with her erratic boyfriend)distant - find that two are better than "one!! great location shooting adds to the interest and enjoyment.
  • A throughly bad film. One of the worst films I have ever seen. James Cagney should have let "Ragtime" be his "swan song"
  • This film has been bugging me for years. I've occasionally asked around about it but noone ever knew what I was talking about. I remember sitting in front of the t.v. some twenty years ago and seeing this as like a "movie of the week". Jimmy Cagney is so old and feeble in it that he can not even emote enough for the microphones to pick him up.THE DIALOGUE OF CAGNEY'S CHARACTER IS ENTIRELY DUBBED IN BY A BAD IMPERSONATOR1 I don't beleive that noone has commented on that after seeing this film . I'm sure this is the same movie although I only saw it briefly 20 years ago as a teenager. The dubbing bit was so obvious and bad that it sticks out in my mind. I think Cagney was a bit past his prime in this one (25 years past), I loved his movies but he should have been home sipping tea for this one.
  • i haven't screened 'terrible Joe yet but plan to in a few minutes. i've had it taped since the original broadcast but forgot about it.was in a cagney mood tonight and decided i better see this in order to complete my cagney history.i was looking forward to it but if virtually every piece of his dialogue is dubbed by a bad impersonator as the other reviewer commented, i'd have to say before viewing it already has to stink! what a bad idea. if you're shooting Jimmy Cagney in his last film it better be all him and if he was too ill to do the job at that time, then shelve the project. and rely on his bull halsey biopic of 1960"the gallant Hours" to be your last great jimmy film and it was the best nonon-action oriented war film ever done i think.if Bull Halsey was much different in appearance or sound from Cagney, i don't want to know about it.