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Never Steal Anything Small Reviews

There was little that James Cagney did wrong on the screen, but his career did have its share of dubious productions like this weird effort, which misses the mark despite Cagney's dynamic performance as Jake MacIllaney, a waterfront thug and would-be union president who sings and dances on the side. A self-taught, hard-nosed stevedore with eyes for a married woman, Jake has little in his nature that is lofty, pure, or idealistic. To make Linda (Shirley Jones) his, Jake tries to frame her lawyer husband (Roger Smith) with a corruption charge; meanwhile, to expedite his rise in the union, he commits perjury, bribery, grand larceny, and just about every other crime in the book, seemingly oblivious to his girl friend's (Cara Williams) attempts to reform him. Not surprisingly, Jake loses it all in the end. Cagney contributes some nice song-and-dance numbers, but, for the most part, the music and lyrics here are uninspired; director Charles Lederer's script, adapted from "The Devil's Hornpipe," an unproduced stage musical by Maxwell Anderson and Rouben Mamoulian, is weak; his direction weaker; and the basic premise for the whole affair unsavory. Tunes include "I'm Sorry, I Want a Ferrari," "I Haven't Got a Thing to Wear," "It Takes Love to Make a Home," "Never Steal Anything Small," and "Helping Out Friends" (Allie Wrubel, Maxwell Anderson).