The St. Louis Kid

  • 1934
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Cagney's last film of l934 dealt with striking dairymen, a topical issue of the year. He plays a rough-and-tumble truck driver whose route takes him between St. Louis and Chicago. A group of strikers don't want milk delivered into their district and are determined to stop any strikebreaking drivers. Cagney gets into a fight with some of the dairymen and...read more

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Cagney's last film of l934 dealt with striking dairymen, a topical issue of the year. He plays a rough-and-tumble truck driver whose route takes him between St. Louis and Chicago. A group of strikers don't want milk delivered into their district and are determined to stop any

strikebreaking drivers. Cagney gets into a fight with some of the dairymen and ends up in jail as a result. He manages to escape one evening and heads off to visit his girl friend Ellis. While Cagney is free one of the strikers is killed by a trucking company goon. Cagney is fingered as the killer

and consequently must prove his innocence. When Ellis tries to provide Cagney's alibi, she is kidnaped by some of the trucking company's agents who don't want the truth revealed. Eventually Cagney is able to outwit the villainous agents through a mixture of brains and brawn, rescuing Ellis and

clearing his name of the murder charge. Despite the timeliness of the subject, the story never delves into the issues raised by headlines of the era. Using the milk wars as a starting point, the film delivers another toughguy Cagney portrait that rarely fails to entertain. The film is full of

energy, led by Cagney's vigorous performance. Right from the beginning one knows just what sort of man Cagney is. He is introduced with his hands wrapped in bandages, souvenirs from a previous night's fisticuffs. Cagney's hands remain bandaged throughout the film but this hardly impedes his

fighting abilities. Instead of pounding foes with clenched fists, the ever-resourceful Cagney takes to butting antagonists with his head. This was a deliberate choice by the actor, who was tired of merely punching out his foes in movie after movie. "I just whipped my head around and hit the guy

with my forehead. Down he went. For the rest of the picture I went around hitting people with my head, all of this in a specific attempt to vary the old punching formula," he wrote in his autobiography, Cagney By Cagney. What audiences missed by not seeing Cagney's fists fly was more than made up

for by the rare opportunity of seeing his leading lady actually take a smack at him. Ellis is a good counterpart for Cagney, proving herself to be just as feisty as Cagney when it counts. Enright took over the direction after Robert Florey was dismissed from the assignment and does a fine job of

keeping the action-filled story moving. The film was shot in a brisk two weeks at a cost of only $80,000 and made a whopping box-office profit of $1.8 million. A few years later, during a legal battle over film costs and earnings, Cagney brought up the financial statistics of THE ST. LOUIS KID as

an example of studios making tremendous profits while failing to properly compensate actors for their work.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Cagney's last film of l934 dealt with striking dairymen, a topical issue of the year. He plays a rough-and-tumble truck driver whose route takes him between St. Louis and Chicago. A group of strikers don't want milk delivered into their district and are de… (more)

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