Friday, April 3, 2015

C is for James Cagney



Born: July 17, 1899

Died: March 30, 1986

Aged: 86 yrs-from a Heart Attack (had diabetes)

Married: Once-happily! over 64 years

Famous Sibling: Jeanne Cagney

Friends: Pat O'Brien, Frank McHugh

He was born in New York's "Hell's Kitchen"-not a nice place. He walked and talked in a rapid staccato style. Short fire cracker known to be a tough guy but was also a song and dance man. In fact, Mikhail Baryshnikov said that Cagney was his favourite dancer! Being mostly Irish (with a little bit of Norway in him too), he was often seen with his best friends(mentioned above) and they became known as "The Irish Mafia". Actually, James Cagney was trying to get rid of the real mafia out of Hollywood and it became so dangerous that there was a hit placed on him. George Raft(actor and in deep with the mafia) pleaded with the powers at be to stop their intent on killing this famed actor. In these good ole days of playing gangsters, they used real bullets! So when watching these old movies where Cagney is running and you see the bricks being damaged by the bullets, they really are being damaged by the bullets. There were times that the bullets just missed Cagney. He was under contract with Warners and often fought with the Brothers who then would place him under suspension and add the time (months) to his 7 year contract. Later in his career, he would often feign illness so it would extend the working days. He wanted to film crew to get paid extra since he felt they were horribly under paid. He retired in the early '60's  but he came back in 1981 on the advice of his doctor and created his final role in "Ragtime".

Oscar Nominations: "Angels With Dirty Faces", "Love Me or Leave Me" (his favourite film)

Oscar Win: " Yankee Doodle Dandy"

Films: "Public Enemy", "Footlight Parade", "The Strawberry Blonde", "City For Conquest", "White Heat", "Mister Roberts", "One, Two, Three"

Quote: "Learn your lines, find your mark, look'em in the eye and tell'em  the truth"

OK the 2 films in bold is what I would choose to see first but, again, all are great:)

53 comments:

  1. The Husband's and my favorite line in a Cagney movie (Here Comes the Navy) is "What are ya, a couple of violets?" A sailor asked this of Cagney's character, also a sailor, who threw a kiss down to his friend (McHugh), another sailor, who was being taken by boat to shore. Cagney and McHugh looked like they were having a lot of fun acting together in that movie.

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    1. That's too funny especially that Lavender is a term for lesbians. There was so much subliminal things going on in these films

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  2. I guess I will forever remember him pushing a half-grapefruit into Mae Clarke's face in Public Enemy. Can't tell you how many times I have wanted to do that to someone.

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    1. Oh I have wanted to as well. She had no idea he was going to do that either so her surprise is genuine

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  3. Fascinating. Lots of facts about Cagney that I didn't know. Angels With Dirty Faces is one of my favorite films.

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  4. Yah, ya see... yah! James was a very talented person, glad the films are here for us to see... Welcome in the "C"... as a host I am stopping by to say thank you!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2015]

    There's no earthly way of knowing.
    Which direction we are going!

    HOLLYWOOD NUTS!
    Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

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  5. That is sure rare for celebrities to be married for that long. Nice of him to get the film crew more dough too.

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    1. it is rare and that they were happy!

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  6. James Cagney is one of the greatest actors of any generation...ever! Not only that, but he was obviously a stand-up guy to boot! I came close to naming my son Cagney...that's how much I love this man!

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    1. Oh wow! He was a stand up guy and a class act

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  7. They were shooting real bullets? That's scary.

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    1. I know and I saw a documentary on him (hosted by Michael J Fox) and they talked about this and those bullets came close!

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  8. Wow, I learned a lot about James Cagney that I didn't know before, like him being a dancer. Neat that he had one happy marriage for so many years! Seemed like a good guy too with seeing the crew's pay and trying to extend the work. Interesting about the bullets! Oh my!!!

    betty

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    1. Oh he was an excellent dancer and you can see that in Yankee Doodle dandy-he really had his own style

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  9. By far, my favorite Cagney movie is 'MR. ROBERTS'. That's just a great movie with an excellent cast, and Cagney played a perfect tyrant. That exasperation on his part at the end was classic.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. OH he was so great in that film and that is one, along with White Heat, that I don't own

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  10. Real bullets? Wow! I like that Cagney fought for the good stuff. Kudos to him. Plus he was a damn good actor. Great pick for C.

    Have a great Easter weekend, Birgit.

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    1. He did fight for the good stuff and yes real bullets. You can see the pieces of concrete coming off. In the film "White Heat" they missed him by inches

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  11. Kind of resembles Leonard DiCaprio, doesn't he? :)

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    1. I don't see it but the hairstyle is similar

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  12. I never really used to watch many old films with the 'classic' actors but I've come to appreciate them a lot more as I've grown older.

    Cait @ Click's Clan

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    1. They are so great!! One finds out how much of today comes from these great films

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  13. If they were shooting real bullets, he was damned lucky he wasn't killed by the Mafia, what an opportunity.

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    1. I know!! He was so lucky because that would have been easy to do

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  14. Cagney was such a tough guy. When I think of him, I think of a gangster or the guy who rammed a grapefruit into a woman's face. He really was a great character actor. I love your A-Z theme!

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    1. He was so tough and that Grapefruit was improvised by him so Mae Clarke's stunned face is real. He was a great dancer too you should youtube him

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  15. I'm fascinated Hollywood used real bullets back then and Cagney's fight against the mafia--he's lucky to have lived. Did not realize he was considered a good dancer. BTW love your a-z letters!

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    1. He was a great dancer and one can see his work in Yankee Doodle and The Seven Little Foys. I watched a documentary on him years ago and that is when they mentioned about the bullets. They did not have the knowledge we have today so they used real bullets and had marksmen to shoot to miss. I was surprised about the mafia as well but at least George Raft did something good

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  16. Great facts about Gagney... I didn't know many of these facts. Wonderful theme for the challenge.

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  17. We have a theatre nearby that's sponsored by Hewlett Packard. They play all the classics and even have a magnificent organ that plays during intermission. I love going there. It's a plush theatre with Art Deco design and interior. Beautiful treat and a snap back to when going to movies was very special. Have to mark when Cagney is going to be there.

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    1. Oh you are so lucky to see movies like that. That would be a treat

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  18. Didn't know most of this! He seems to have been a great guy.

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    1. I know! When I was a kid I thought he must have been nasty but he was quite the opposite

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  19. He was interesting in Yankee Doodle Dandy. I'm not much of a gangster movie person, so I haven't seen much of his other work.

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    1. You should see The Strawberry Blonde or even Mister Roberts (Take place during WW2 but they don't see any action)-Henry Fonda, William Powell and Jack Lemmon were also in that film

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  20. What a showman. Cagney was the real deal. I guess back in the old black and white days of filming, Hollywood had to improvise using the real McCoy. I've heard of actors doing their own stunts but not bullets, jeepers...

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    1. They didn't have the ability to fake bullets hitting buildings etc so yup real bullets

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  21. I haven't seen anything with Cagney in it- but I have heard of him. I didn't know that about gangsters trying to take him out. Yikes! Thanks for sharing. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. I didn't know that either until I read a book about him and I looked into further to make sure this was true and it seems it is

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  22. Very cool that he thought about the underpaid crew members. Very uncool that gangsters wanted to kill him.

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    1. I agree about the Mafia and also how he thought about the crew

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  23. Love the quote. And what a maverick Cagney was!
    Thanks, Birgit. I didn't know these things about him!

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    1. He was a maverick-great word to use!

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  24. Another one-of-a-kind! My aunt took care of him once in the hospital when he was older. It was her big "celeb" story!

    Thanks, Birgit!

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    1. Oh wow! Cool!! Love to know what she thought of him:)

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  25. Cagney is a favorite of mine! I'm glad he is your C.

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  26. Yay, you picked Cagney for C... Love all his movies. The grapefruit scene in Public Enemy... unforgettable!
    hugs, Asha

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  27. Yay, you picked Cagney for C... Love all his movies. The grapefruit scene in Public Enemy... unforgettable!
    hugs, Asha

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  28. Cagney was a great talent. My favorite film he did was Yankee Doodle Dandy. I can see why Baryshnikov might have named Cagney as his favorite dancer as he was good and had a very unique style.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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