Saturday, March 16, 2002


Though I don't number James Cagney as one of my very favorite actors, I usually find his presence makes a movie worth watching. This, however, is surely one of his lesser films. He seemed to be operating at half-energy throughout--maybe he was conserving his energy for YANKEE DOODLE DANDY which he did a year or so later. The plot combines elements of THE FRONT PAGE and RED DUST; Pat O'Brien, head of a powerful banana company stationed in Latin America, tries to trick old buddy Cagney into coming back into the fold. One problem with this situation is that they don't have much chemistry here; their friendship never seems very believeable. The RED DUST element comes from the character of Ann Sheridan, as a singer who O'Brien tries to have deported (apparently for loose morals, but her charaxter isn't developed well enough for us to know that). She falls for Cagney (who is tied up temporarily with upper-class Helen Vinson); he helps Sheridan out and eventually falls for her. Sheridan is not terribly convincing as a shady dame, but she looks great and has some snappy one-liners aimed at Vinson; otherwise, the movie is slow going. George Tobias (Abner Kravitz on BEWITCHED) and George Reeves are improbably cast as natives, but their very improbability actually makes them fun to watch. Only for die-hard Cagney fans. The only other Cagney film that I have liked less is THE BRIDE CAME C.O.D.

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