Thursday, August 18, 2016

Blonde Crazy

There's something about actors that hail from New York City that have that extra oomph for their performances. Barbara Stanwyck, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Tony Curtis...something about their street smarts adds to their acting. And boy, that was all the more prevalent during the pre-Code era.

Roy Del Ruth's Blonder Crazy stars two such names: James Cagney and Joan Blondell. Throughout both their careers they played characters who follow their own rules and don't take guff from anyone. And since they play con artists here, it takes another step further.

As proven by later films Taxi! and Lady Killer, Del Ruth got an energetic turn out of Cagney. (Then again, most if not all of the pre-Code films he starred in can be applied to this scenario.) He delivers his lines at a mile a minute, a frequent expectation of stars during this era. And like countless later titles of his, Cagney commands the screen.

Not that Blondell isn't able to hold her own. (In fairness, holding one's own alongside a legend like Cagney is far from easy.) Like Barbara Stanwyck, she wouldn't shy away from telling someone off. If she doesn't like someone, she'll say so right to their face. (Honestly, we need more female characters like this nowadays.)

Blonde Crazy may not be the best of Cagney's pre-Codes but it's certainly one of the more entertaining. It's because of his rapport with Blondell that makes it so. It also serves as a nice temporary escape.

My Rating: ****

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