The Strawberry Blonde

  • 1941
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Romance

Charming remake of ONE SUNDAY AFTERNOON (1933) sees Cagney as a correspondence-school dentist struggling to make ends meet at the turn of the century. On a Sunday afternoon, Cagney--who has recently been released from prison on a charge yet unrevealed--enjoys a game of horseshoes with his old friend Tobias, a Greek barber who mangles the English language....read more

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Charming remake of ONE SUNDAY AFTERNOON (1933) sees Cagney as a correspondence-school dentist struggling to make ends meet at the turn of the century. On a Sunday afternoon, Cagney--who has recently been released from prison on a charge yet unrevealed--enjoys a game of horseshoes with

his old friend Tobias, a Greek barber who mangles the English language. When a nearby band begins playing "And the Band Played On," the tune sparks bad memories for Cagney. The telephone rings and the caller is a man looking to have a sore tooth pulled. Despite the fact that the man is an

alderman, Cagney refuses to work on a Sunday. When it is learned that the alderman is none other than Carson, Cagney's archenemy, Cagney immediately agrees to see him. While Cagney plots his revenge on Carson, Tobias tries to talk him out of it. In a flashback we see how Cagney came to hate

Carson. Cagney, the son of neighborhood scalawag Hale, is among the many young men who have a hopeless crush on the local beauty queen, Hayworth, a strawberry blonde who enjoys flirting with every man she meets. Cagney's friend Carson, the local sharpie who is always cheating toward success,

arranges to meet Hayworth and her friend de Havilland in the park. Needing a second male, Carson enlists Cagney. The boys rent a carriage and race to the park. When Cagney sees de Havilland, who is wearing her prim nurse's uniform, he tries to back out of the date, but Carson tells him that he can

have Hayworth. As it turns out, Carson and Hayworth end up walking off into the bushes together while Cagney is stuck with de Havilland, who reveals that she is a free-thinking, modern woman who wouldn't hesitate to kiss a boy without being engaged. Cagney is appalled by her free thinking and

abruptly ends the date, making Carson leave with him. (Carson stumbles out of the brush straightening his clothes, whining that he and Hayworth were just getting acquainted!) Carson declares he'll make things up to Cagney if he'll go on another date--this time he can have Hayworth. Cagney agrees

and when the couples are separated at a boat ride, he gets to spend the day with Hayworth--who milks him for all he's worth (dinner, dancing, carriage ride). Hayworth soon learns that Cagney is quite poor and that he's spent all his money on her. Before they part she gives him a kiss and the

head-over-heels in love Cagney runs off, not realizing that he's just been kissed off.

Three weeks later Cagney prepares himself for their next date (which Hayworth agreed to rather absent-mindedly), but he is informed by de Havilland that that afternoon Hayworth married Carson (who is rapidly making a name for himself by swindling half the citizens of New York). Quite on the

rebound, Cagney decides to take de Havilland up on her free thinking and is shocked when she pulls away and confesses it was all a put-on--she's really quite conventional. Cagney asks her if she wants to go steady and she agrees. Soon after, they are married, and Cagney works long and hard at his

lessons from the dentist correspondence school, barely making ends meet. Years later he runs into Hayworth, who invites the couple to dinner at her and Carson's huge mansion. Their marriage was not exactly made in heaven. He has become a sniveling, overweight, complacent snob, and Hayworth has

become bored with him. Because she knows Cagney and de Havilland are struggling financially, she forces her husband to offer Cagney a vice presidency in his contracting firm. Carson reluctantly agrees, and Cagney warily accepts (he also gets a foreman's position for his terminally unemployed

father Hale). During dinner the mansion's new electric light blows a fuse, leaving everyone in the dark. During the blackout Hayworth makes her way to Cagney and kisses him passionately--but Cagney thinks that de Havilland was the one who kissed him. Six months later Cagney is climbing the walls

because his position gives him nothing to do other than read the day's newspapers and sign documents he doesn't understand. When a building Carson's company had constructed collapses because cheap materials were used (Hale is killed in the accident), the company is hauled before the courts and

Cagney is made the fall guy. He's sent to prison for five years and vows revenge on Carson. The film then returns to the Sunday afternoon that Cagney decides to give Carson a lethal dose of laughing gas when he comes in to have his tooth pulled. When Carson and Hayworth arrive, Cagney is a bit

surprised to find him even more pathetic than he was five years ago and Hayworth more shrewish than ever. Deciding that life with Hayworth is punishment enough, Cagney doesn't gas Carson, but instead pulls his tooth without benefit of anesthetic. After they leave, Cagney goes for a walk with de

Havilland and both are overjoyed when she tells him she's going to have a baby.

THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE is a delightful romantic comedy which combines a strong cast, great production values, and a good musical score with professional direction by Walsh in a skillfull entertainment. The beautiful Hayworth was actually a replacement for Warner Bros.' starlet Ann Sheridan, who

balked at the script and refused to participate, With the costumes already designed and ready, director Walsh and studio head Jack Warner were in a quandary. Walsh immediately thought of Hayworth, the darling of Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn. Cohn was delighted to have his rising starlet

appear in a Cagney film and gladly lent her to Warners. While Cagney, Hayworth, and Carson are fine in their various roles, it is de Havilland who steals the film. Demonstrating a flair for comedy little tapped in her previous roles, de Havilland is wonderfully cute and spunky in the scenes in

which she and Cagney are courting. In another standout scene she explains her free thinking ways to the very prim and proper Hayworth, delighting in shocking her friend. Her sexually aggressive winks and her bouncy swagger while trying to convince Cagney of her independence are endearing and

hilarious. The film earned an Oscar nomination for Best Score. Director Walsh would remake the film again in 1948 as ONE SUNDAY AFTERNOON, this time as a musical, but THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE remains the definitive version.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Charming remake of ONE SUNDAY AFTERNOON (1933) sees Cagney as a correspondence-school dentist struggling to make ends meet at the turn of the century. On a Sunday afternoon, Cagney--who has recently been released from prison on a charge yet unrevealed--enj… (more)

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