Tuesday, July 15, 2003


An early non-gangster role for James Cagney. He plays a well known car racer who goes home for a visit and ends up taking his adoring younger brother (Eric Linden) under his wing, training him to follow in his footsteps. There are female troubles for both: because of some misunderstandings, Ann Dvorak, Cagney's live-in girlfriend, gets kicked out, and Dvorak's friend, Joan Blondell, falls for Linden. Neither woman, in Cagney's eyes, is good enough for either one of them. Eventually, Cagney gets overly cocky, drives drunk in a race, and causes the death of his sidekick pal, Frank McHugh. This sends Cagney spiraling downward while his brother's career is on the rise. In the end, Cagney is redeemed, and in a comic finale, he and his brother race each other to the hospital in ambulances. The race scenes use real racing footage and they're fairly well done; otherwise, it's bland formulaic fare, despite a strong cast (also including Guy Kibbee). Some real-life racing drivers of the era have cameos. Warners remade this in 1939 as INDIANAPOLIS SPEEDWAY, with Pat O'Brien, John Payne, and Ann Sheridan, but I haven't been able to talk myself into watching it yet.

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