(Review originally written at 21 May 2008)

James Cagney is best known for his tough characters- and gangster roles but he has also played quite a lot 'soft' characters in his career. This musical is one of them and it was the first but not the last musical movie Cagney would star in.

Cagney is even doing a bit of singing in this one and also quite an amount of dancing. And it needs to be said that he was not bad at it. He plays the role with a lot of confidence. He apparently had some dancing jobs in his early life before his acting career started to take off big time, so it actually isn't a weird thing that he also took on some musical acting roles in his career. He obviously also feels at ease in this totally different genre than most people are accustomed to seeing him in.

The movie is directed by Lloyd Bacon, who was perhaps among the best and most successful director within the genre. His earliest '30's musicals pretty much defined the musical genre and he also was responsible for genre movies such as "42nd Street". His musicals were always light and fun to watch and more comedy like than anything else really. '30's musicals never were really about its singing, this was something that more featured in '40's and later made musicals, mainly from the MGM studios.

As usual it has a light and simple story, set in the musical world, that of course is also predictable and progresses in a formulaic way. It nevertheless is a fun and simple story that also simply makes this an entertaining movies to watch. So do the characters and actors that are portraying them. Sort of weird though that that the total plot line of the movie gets sort of abandoned toward the end of the movie, when the movie only starts to consists out of musical number routines.

The musical moments toward the ending of the movie are also amusing and well done, even though I'm not a too big fan of the genre itself. Once again the musical numbers also feature a young Billy Barty. he often played little boys/babies/mice and whatever more early on in his career, including the movie musical "Gold Diggers of 1933", of one year earlier.

A recommendable early genre movie.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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