Cagney Author:Ron Offen From inside flap: — Some people think of James Cagney as the finger-jabbing punk who ushered in a new era of on-screen sadism by shoving half a grapefruit in his moll's face. Others regard him as the razzmatazz song and dance man who won the Academy Award for his bigger-than-life characterization of George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy. But unt... more »il now even his most avid fans have known little about the private life of this enigmatic actor. Cagney the man has worked as hard at staying out of the public limelight as Cagney the actor has at becoming a polished professional who can wring a three-dimensional character from a one-dimensional script. The paradox of Cagney the actor versus Cagney the man is puzzling: the movie "gangster" actually loathes violence; the vaudeville "gigolo" in real life has never been touched by a scandal.
The high point of Cagney's career was his portrayal of the one-and-original showman. George M. Cohan, for which he won the New York Film Critics Award as well as the Academy Award against such formidable competition as Humphrey Bogart, Monty Wooly, and Alan Ladd. Cagney's most noteworthy performances, however, won no awards or Oscars. His contract placed him under the thumb of Jack Warner, and he was required to appear in several movies masterminded by Warner's publicity department to capitalize on Cagney's tough guy image. His ability to flesh out puppet characters and bring alive hackneyed scripts won him popular as well as critical acclaim and catapulted him to millionaire status. The sequel - Cagney's own studio, its failure to come to grips with popular tastes, and his eventual retirement - makes fascinating reading.
A complete Cagney Filmography from 1930 to his last appearance in 1961, is included, listing directors and casts. Twenty-four pages of photos and stills, many rarely published, make Cagney a book that will be a valuable additional to your library.
Ron Offen, a professional writer and winner of the American Poets Award in 1958, is the author of Dillinger: Dead or Alive? and Poet as Bad Guy and Other Poems.« less