The following is Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s contribution to The James Cagney Blogathon, which is being sponsored from April 8-12 by The Movie Projector. For a list of the other participants and the films discussed, please click here.
Johnny Come Lately  and The Time of Your Life ), actor James Cagney returned to Warner Bros., the studio that had made him famous with the moviegoing public. His comeback film was White Heat (1949), a rip-snortin’ gangster saga directed by Raoul Walsh that stands today as one of Cagney’s greatest films. Warner’s made the Cagney brothers an offer they couldn’t refuse: if Jimmy agreed to star in Heat, WB would give William Cagney Productions (their independent company) a sweetheart co-distribution deal that would allow them to pay off their losses (the previously mentioned Time of Your Life was in the hole to the tune of $500,000).
Angels with Dirty Faces…another well-acknowledged Cagney classic.
In between White Heat and the mostly forgettable musical The West Point Story (1950), Cagney made what was essentially his last true gangster flick (Jimmy plays a hood in 1955’s Love Me or Leave Me—but that’s primarily a vehicle for Doris Day), Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950). While the film as a whole doesn’t completely jell, the movie contains one of the actor’s most interesting performances…and since it rarely seems to turn up on
it’s definitely worth seeking out if you come across it.
Ralph does not get the chance to make the smooth transition into responsibility.
with whom Cotter has been housekeeping since his prison break, has heard all
about the Margaret situation…but what’s worse, she’s heard from Cobbett that
Ralph was the guy what croaked her brother.
She deposits a bit of lead into Ralph in retribution, and the entire
criminal enterprise comes a-crumblin’ down (Ralph’s tragic tale is told in
flashback as Holiday and the rest of Cotter’s “gang”
a biography of the tragic Payton by author John O’Dowd borrows the film’s title for the book. The blonde starlet, after making a favorable impression alongside Richard Basehart in Trapped (1949), lobbied hard for the part that ultimately went to Marilyn Monroe in The Asphalt Jungle (1950) but was rebuffed. Despite being untested as a screen presence Barbara held her own alongside the veteran Cagney; brother Bill even arranged for a weekly salary of $5,000 during filming. But in the roles that followed—westerns like Dallas (1950) and Only the Valiant (1951)—Payton did not receive the opportunity to expand on the splendid work she did in Goodbye and soon found herself haunting B-flicks and programmers like Bride of the Gorilla (1951). A series of failed relationships (Payton, married to actor Franchot Tone, started seeing Tom Neal on the sly…and that alone should clue you in on her bad choices in men) and a spiraling into substance abuse and prostitution shut the door on a promising career; Payton died of heart and liver failure in 1967.