Jimmy The Gent

  • 1934
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Crime

Being tough and ruthless is what the early cinematic days of Cagney were all about, and this film is no exception. He is a scheming, apparently conscienceless estate hunter. Cagney, with his assistant Davis at his side, tracks down heirs to sizable unclaimed estates and takes a hefty slice after putting the missing heirs in touch with their money. Davis...read more

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Being tough and ruthless is what the early cinematic days of Cagney were all about, and this film is no exception. He is a scheming, apparently conscienceless estate hunter. Cagney, with his assistant Davis at his side, tracks down heirs to sizable unclaimed estates and takes a hefty

slice after putting the missing heirs in touch with their money. Davis is repelled at Cagney's reprehensible ways for, often as not, he provides phony heirs to estates. When Davis sees the suave, cultured Dinehart, who is in the same business, she compares him with uncouth Cagney and leaves her

roughneck employer, going to work for Dinehart. Cagney tries to convince her that Dinehart, despite his polished ways and fancy office, is a bigger crook than Cagney is, but to no avail. Then Cagney decides to beat them by joining them. He clutches culture with both fists, redoing his offices,

taking diction and speech instruction, serving tea to his thug staffers, and donning formal wear. He meanwhile exposes Dinehart as a thief in an elaborate scheme. Next, when Dinehart realizes his business is being ruined by Cagney he offers his competitor a partnership, which Cagney promptly

rejects. Then Dinehart proposes to Davis and she gives him the thumbs down. She returns to Cagney, realizing he's got a good heart even though his larceny streak is a bit thick. He promises to reform, but the viewer is left with only a "maybe" in the mind. Curtiz takes this film through its paces

at his usual fast clip. Although this is less antisocial and violent than his other crime capers on film, Cagney presents plenty of colorful moxie as a con man with a sense of humor. The film is also played for laughs by Davis and the rest of the cast, even Methot, who later became Humphrey

Bogart's wife. Neither Cagney nor Davis wanted to do this film. As a protest, Cagney appeared on the set with his head shorn so that his dome almost resembled a pineapple. Studio chief Hal Wallis thought Cagney had done this as a personal insult to him, and director Curtiz, helming his first

Cagney picture, almost passed out at the sight of the actor. In one of the first scenes Cagney turned his head away from the camera and Curtiz spotted several ugly scars on the back of his star's head, scars that would have normally been covered up with hair. He yelled "cut!" and complained loudly

until Cagney admitted it was just a stunt, that he had asked a pal in the makeup department to put the scars there. The fake scars were removed and the shooting went on, but Davis, who was also battling with Jack Warner at the time, would have nothing to do with Cagney, refusing to take publicity

stills with him. Davis was about to appear in her first major film, OF HUMAN BONDAGE, but Warners wanted to use her quickly while she waited to go into that production. So she was hustled into doing JIMMY THE GENT and resented it, also disdaining Cagney for his hair sabotage. She would appear with

him again seven years later in THE BRIDE CAME C.O.D., and that film didn't work too well, either.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Being tough and ruthless is what the early cinematic days of Cagney were all about, and this film is no exception. He is a scheming, apparently conscienceless estate hunter. Cagney, with his assistant Davis at his side, tracks down heirs to sizable unclaim… (more)

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