Friday, March 18, 2011
Question: Who The Heck Is James Cagney? Answer: A Great Guy
If you know a lot about James Cagney's personal life and the title just made you snicker, don't correct me; it's a pun. A clever play on words. I have no idea whether Cagney was a moral person or not. End of disclaimer.
Sigh. Why did I have to make that typo just there? Why couldn't I have misspelled "and" in the middle of a sentence that was so compelling it didn't matter? Why, for that matter, didn't I see it when I proof read? I'm talking about when I spelled "lost" "lot", thereby ruining my joke about Elmer Fudd and my missing MP3. No, don't bother- I fixed it already. But still, I think it killed the whole post. Yes, I'm a tad bit depressed right now. And not about the end of the world for once. These past, like, three days my psyche has been going through one of those "teenager-plus-emotional turmoil-plus-little exposure to peers-equals-excessive need for love and acceptance" periods. I'm all "you don't really like me, do you? You just think I'm annoying and embarrassing and you hate me and the way I talk all the time and my blog and you think Porky Pig is gross." And I'm sure everyone, I know Mom, is loving it. So anyway......if I sound like I'm gold-digging for complements...I am. But don't feel obligated. Dang, there I go again.
I would like to thank all of you for your great big whopping-dollops of suggestions as to my next film to review. As sir Arthur Conan Doyle once said; "Having indicated an armchair to me and placed my refreshment near it, he handed me a long smooth Havana." I have no idea why he said that but since I just pulled it out of "The Lost World" I'm assuming it has something to do with context. The main idea you all gave, of course, was old movies. I am a little surprised, and I'll tell you why. Because I know you want to know.
First of all, I always sort of expected people would want to know how good newer movies are. Like the ones that you still see commercials for, not the ones that show on TCM on "Peter Seller's Saturday" or something to the effect. But I guess I was wrong. Hey, I'm lovin' it! I watch way more oldies then I do...newbies...! I would have started reviewing years ago if I'd known that! I guess if your looking for something to rent you don't care how old it is, just how good it is. Second, older movies are ten times more likely to be- A. Seen and reviewed by professional critics (that darn Roger Ebert!) or B. Seen by you already. But hey, who cares if you've seen it? Oldies are goodies I always say.
Except in the case of eggs. And milk. And just about all other perishable food items.
So last night I took the plunge, got on retrovision (a good sight for watching classic films) and looked by actor. I decided on James Cagney, a famous movie star of the 1920's, 30's and 40's who played in a lot of gangster films, probably due to the fact that frankly, he's a scary lookin' little dude;
But nobody's perfect, right?
I've heard him mentioned innumerable (that's a fun word) places, including from Papa, Dad, in popular culture (as in, the culture of the 30's, 40's and 50's that Ive heard or seen). And he is mentioned in the Mel Blanc book, where the latter compares him to Bug's Bunny's...uhm...New-York-edd-ness. Again, context.
Anyway, the movie we ended up watching was a thirties thriller called "The Great Guy", hence the title. It's what you might call a crime-drama/thriller/you'd-better-pay-attention-or-you-won't-get-anything film. Jimmy surprised me. My first reaction was "Hey, he's not handsome!" (based on the very 21'st century idea that all movie stars must be as cute as Zach Efron at least. And I don't even think he's that good lookin'. Kinda looks beefy to me. But whatever.) But about ten minutes in, he sort of grows on you. He's strong headed, according to wikipedia and his reputation as an actor, and he always plays strong-headed characters. And he does it well. Scary as he looks, his ability to play an impulsive, determined man trying to do...whatever he's trying to do...is even scarier.
But enough about him. The movie is about a man who investigates weight frauds in grocery stores, as in, when you buy a chicken for a certain price and it ends up being a lot smaller than what you originally paid for. Because there was a weight in the chicken. It doesn't sound very exciting, but the man-I forget his name but I swear I was paying attention- is subjected to bribes, beatings, scandals, lawsuits, etc. to get him to stop, and since he continues to do the right thing, it makes him a great guy.
Recommendation? It totally depends. Do you like old movies? Do you like crime movies? Could you watch Dragnet without having an heart-attack waiting for the action to begin? Do you like Jimmy Cagney? If you answered yes to all of those, this movie is probably right for you. I, on the other hand, have always been far more geared towards comedy than...basically any other form of entertainment. If something isn't funny I have a hard time watching it twice. But that's a trait I'm striving to get over, so don't let my narrow-mindedness keep you from watching a great film about a great guy.
P.S. If your like me, and you love funny things (but you want some Humphrey Bogart in the mix) I suggest you watch this; Looney Tunes; 8 Ball Bunny.
I am at least counting on you, Papa, to tell me what the heck the Bogart cameo means."Ooohh!! I'm Dyyyiiinnn'!!"
P.P.S. I really need to scoot since Mom wants me to do...shudder...math. And to think that in three years I will be out of the house, and she wants to waste our last days together doing school. Pity. I watched another oldey last night called "Palooka" with Jimmy Cagney's younger brother and Jimmy Durante, the latter of whome you may know from the ubiquitouse expression; "I got a million of em! Ha-cha-cha!"