Sunday, June 14, 2009

Movie Picks: Cagney in Picture Snatcher

It's probably dull reading day-to-day accounts of the not so rich and famous. Isn't it?

So I will try to drag out something interesting on a regular basis. The Yarn Harlot says Tuesdays are for spinning. In that case, I'll say that Sundays are for movies. I like movie blogs and read a few of the ones that concentrate on old films. (This does not mean 1980s. Think the films your grandparents...or THEIR parents...watched in the cinemas.)

My personal favorites are usually screwball comedy or at least pre-Code, and if it's got elements of both, so much the better.

Accordingly, I'd like to mention Picture Snatcher, with James Cagney and Ralph Bellamy. 1933.

It's a film about an ex-con (Cagney) who has already decided he wants to go straight. He heads to the editor who encouraged him in his dreams of becoming a journalist (this is Bellamy's role), and the games begin.

This one is a good ride. There are some serious and even ugly moments in the film--1933 was a great year for fashion, but not a good time for the common man or woman, especially in the sordid world of this flick. Cagney uses his lightning reflexes and reactions for laughs and to pull you in further. There's even a Mae Clark type scene with an old girlfriend who doesn't want to be the ex.

The girl of his dreams, of course, is the daughter of a cop from the prison. Not just any cop, either; this one filled him full of lead and sent him up the river.

Bellamy gets to play a lush, Cagney gets to mug, and honestly, you're not sure until the very end just what the end will be. I have it on DVD and recommend it wholeheartedly if you're a Cagney or pre-Code fan. It's a helluva good outing for Ralph Bellamy, too.


Batty said...

Ah yes, back when movies tended to have strong scripts. Where the action was thick, the repartee was witty, and special effects didn't make or break the experience...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking special effects. But every time I watch a movie that's pre-1970, I wonder why Hollywood now thinks that things blowing up for 3 hours are entertaining. Not for 3 hours, they aren't! I want a good storyline. Is that too much to ask for?

Eileen said...

Amen, sister!

There are good modern films (and plenty of violence even in the old ones) but somehow, tricks are taking the place of cleverness and intelligence (not to mention plain old Entertainment) in so many new movies.