Great Guy (1936)

First of all, I’m sorry not to have posted here for ages – my working life has been busy and I’ve let blogging slip as a result. I’ll try to do better!

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James Cagney and Mae Clarke

James Cagney walked out on Warner Brothers in the mid-1930s partly because he was fed up with being typecast as a tough guy. So it comes as a surprise that his starring role in Great Guy  – the first of two movies he made with Grand National, a poverty row studio – seems such a typical role for him.

Typical at first glance, anyway. His character, Johnnie Cave (the hero of stories by James Edward Grant published in the Saturday Evening Post) is an ex-boxer, now fearlessly enforcing the law for New York’s Department of Weights and Measures. However, the very fact that he is working for such an unglamorous department suggests a certain distance between this character and the gangsters, G-Men and dashing pilots Cagney had played in his recent films.

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