For Reel

Lady Killer (1933)
September 26, 2014, 4:40 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Roy Del Ruth
3 Stars
Lady KillerJames Cagney was catapulted to stardom when he smashed a grapefruit into Mae Clarke’s face in The Public Enemy. Clarke had it easy–when she shows up unwanted in Cagney’s bed in Lady Killer, he literally drags her across the floor by her hair and throws her out the door. The picture involves a number of similar actions that capitalize on Cagney’s firecracker tough guy persona, creating an image of a star who was both cool and horrifying in his unpredictability. Even if Cagney was disappointed to continue to be cast in tough guy roles, this particular role involved participating in several genres at once–what starts as a familiar crime film turns into a sort of satire about Hollywood itself, with Cagney rocketing to stardom as an extra. The most appealing tangents are those that take place on Hollywood sets, where Cagney plays everything from a Native American in a western to a European romantic lead. As Warner Brothers could reliably produce, Lady Killer is fast-moving and well-cast, even if the whole does not quite live up to the sum of its memorable parts.

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