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Lady KillerUSA 1933
Directed by Roy Del Ruth
Running time 74 minutes
James Cagney was at the peak of his career as a screen gangster and Lady Killer is almost a tongue-in-cheek take on his many appearances as such.
Cagney plays Dan Quigley, a tough little wiseacre working as an usher at the Strand Theater in New York (The Strand was the cinema that Warner Bros.used for their film openings in the 1930s, including this one). He gets fired for bad behaviour and drifts into the company of some small-time crooks, headed up by Spade Maddock (Douglas Dumbrille who played many such roles during the period). Dan hits if off with Maddock’s partner, in crime only it seems, Myra, (played with spirit by Mae Clarke whose face Cagney put a grapefruit in the infamous scene in The Public Enemy, a scene which incidentally gets a reference when Dan tells her at the train station that he wants to go to California for the grapefruits). Things get a little hot for the gang and, things being what they are, Dan eventually gets discovered by some movie scouts and ends up becoming a film star \Of course his low-life associates decide they want a piece of the action so there’s more shenanigans before everything turns out just dandy for Dan.
The movie is a lightweight distraction in the Depression-era mold of star-fueled escapism and is too formulaic to warrant much attention for any but either novice or hard-core Cagney fans.