James Cagney Movies I've Seen

by msecaur | created - 18 Sep 2017 | updated - 19 hours ago | Public
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1. Man of a Thousand Faces (1957)

Approved | 122 min | Biography, Drama

The life and career of vaudevillian and silent screen horror star Lon Chaney, including his contentious relationship with his neurotic wife and his premature death.

Director: Joseph Pevney | Stars: James Cagney, Dorothy Malone, Jane Greer, Marjorie Rambeau

Votes: 2,191

First Cagney movie, pre-2017. Cagney great, but fictionalized script and over-emphasis on Cleva don't do him or Lon any favors.

2. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

Passed | 126 min | Biography, Drama, Musical

The life of the renowned musical composer, playwright, actor, dancer, and singer George M. Cohan.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston, Richard Whorf

Votes: 13,180 | Gross: $11.80M

June 2017. Somewhat overlong, but a treat to see Cagney showing off his skills as a singer and dancer, his beautiful sister Jeanne, and a great tribute to Cohan.

3. The Strawberry Blonde (1941)

Approved | 99 min | Comedy, Romance

Quick-tempered yet likable Biff Grimes falls for the beautiful Virginia Brush, but he is not the only young man in the neighborhood who is smitten with her.

Director: Raoul Walsh | Stars: James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland, Rita Hayworth, Alan Hale

Votes: 2,869

August 2017. Slightly overlong, but great turn-of-the-century atmosphere. Cagney great as nice guy snubbed by titular strawberry-blonde. Great chemistry with Olivia de Haviland.

4. The Roaring Twenties (1939)

Not Rated | 106 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Three men attempt to make a living in Prohibitionist America after returning home from fighting together in World War I.

Director: Raoul Walsh | Stars: James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Priscilla Lane, Gladys George

Votes: 11,764

August 2017. Overstretched gangster drama, but often compelling, with a veneer of quality. Downbeat ending, but Cagney great as soldier-turned-bootlegger.

5. Love Me or Leave Me (1955)

Passed | 122 min | Biography, Drama, Music

A fictionalized account of the career of jazz singer Ruth Etting and her tempestuous marriage to gangster Marty Snyder, who helped propel her to stardom.

Director: Charles Vidor | Stars: Doris Day, James Cagney, Cameron Mitchell, Robert Keith

Votes: 3,476

August/September 2017. Somewhat slow in spots, but Cagney electrifying as tough mobster with a soft spot for singer (Day) who doesn't love him.

6. The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941)

Approved | 92 min | Comedy, Romance

A financially-strapped charter pilot hires himself to an oil tycoon to kidnap his madcap daughter and prevent her from marrying a vapid band leader.

Director: William Keighley | Stars: James Cagney, Bette Davis, Stuart Erwin, Eugene Pallette

Votes: 2,754

September 2017. Sometimes forced but sometimes funny screwball comedy, but Cagney great and charming regardless alongside Bette Davis.

7. Something to Sing About (1937)

Approved | 93 min | Comedy, Musical

A New York bandleader journeys to Hollywood when he is offered a contract with a studio, but he is determined to do things his way and not theirs.

Director: Victor Schertzinger | Stars: James Cagney, Evelyn Daw, William Frawley, Mona Barrie

Votes: 695

September 2017. Disjointed and overlong, but has its moments of comedy. Cagney's dancing skills on show.

8. Taxi (1932)

Passed | 69 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

Independent cab drivers struggling against a taxi company consortium find a leader in Matt Nolan.

Director: Roy Del Ruth | Stars: James Cagney, Loretta Young, George E. Stone, Guy Kibbee

Votes: 1,071

September 2017. Fast-paced ubergenre film with Cagney at his charming, talented best as a hot-tempered yet sympathetic taxi-driver. Shows off his range as tough guy, lover, and dancer. Personal favorite Cagney film.

9. Winner Take All (1932)

Unrated | 66 min | Drama

Young boxer Jim Kane, resting at a New Mexico "health ranch," meets and falls for Peggy Harmon, former nightclub table singer...who needs $600 more for her sickly son to stay in the place. ... See full summary »

Director: Roy Del Ruth | Stars: James Cagney, Marian Nixon, Guy Kibbee, Dickie Moore

Votes: 453

September 2017. Cagney totally unbelievable as dense, fickle boxer, but great to see his fighting skills in action.

10. Footlight Parade (1933)

Passed | 104 min | Comedy, Musical, Romance

Chester Kent struggles against time, romance, and a rival's spy to produce spectacular live "prologues" for movie houses.

Director: Lloyd Bacon | Stars: James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell

Votes: 4,348

September 2017. Overlong and dull till the final two musical numbers, but great seeing Cagney hoofing and singing.

11. Blonde Crazy (1931)

TV-G | 79 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

The adventures of an egoistic con man and his glamorous accomplice.

Director: Roy Del Ruth | Stars: James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Louis Calhern, Noel Francis

Votes: 1,438

September 2017. Unlikeable characters and disappointing ending bring story down, but Cagney charming regardless as young con man opposite Joan Blondell.

12. Other Men's Women (1931)

Passed | 71 min | Drama, Romance

Events take an unhappy turn for two Bill and Jack, two locomotive engineers, after Bill is attracted to his best friend's wife.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Grant Withers, Mary Astor, Regis Toomey, James Cagney

Votes: 1,026

September 2017. Cagney stands out in otherwise soapy story, despite the small size of his part, and even gets in a dance. Shots on top of moving train a real achievement.

13. Great Guy (1936)

Approved | 66 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

The adventures of an investigator (Cagney) for the Bureau of Weights and Measures.

Director: John G. Blystone | Stars: James Cagney, Mae Clarke, James Burke, Edward Brophy

Votes: 796

September 2017. Cagney excellent in otherwise moderately entertaining, low-budget quickie about principled guy fighting corruption. Worth it to see his dancing and fighting skills.

14. Lady Killer (1933)

Passed | 76 min | Comedy, Crime

A former gangster makes it big in Hollywood, but his old life catches up with him.

Director: Roy Del Ruth | Stars: James Cagney, Mae Clarke, Margaret Lindsay, Leslie Fenton

Votes: 1,475

September 2017. Cagney charming as ever depite uneven and forgettable story about gum-chewing smart-aleck who goes from movie usher to racketeer to movie actor. One of his rare happy endings.

15. Jimmy the Gent (1934)

Passed | 67 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

An unpolished racketeer, whose racket is finding heirs for unclaimed fortunes, affects ethics and tea-drinking manners to win back the sweetheart who now works for his seemingly upright competitor.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: James Cagney, Bette Davis, Allen Jenkins, Alan Dinehart

Votes: 1,477

September 2017. Typical 30's crime-comedy fluff with Cagney as a professional swindler who vows to go straight to win back his old girlfriend. Neither he nor Davis liked the script, but great to see them working together.

16. Smart Money (1931)

Passed | 81 min | Crime, Drama

A Greek barber has uncommon skills in playing poker and soon rises in the seedy world of illegal gambling, but pretty blondes remain his Achilles' heel.

Director: Alfred E. Green | Stars: Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, Evalyn Knapp, Ralf Harolde

Votes: 1,587

September 2017. Robinson's film as barber/professional gambler, but Cagney shines in his second-billed role as loyal sidekick. Tragic end for both.

17. Frisco Kid (1935)

Approved | 77 min | Adventure, Romance

After a roustabout sailer avoids being shanghaied in 1852 San Francisco, his audacity helps him to arise to a position of power in the vice industry of the infamous Barbary Coast.

Director: Lloyd Bacon | Stars: James Cagney, Margaret Lindsay, Ricardo Cortez, Lili Damita

Votes: 483

September 2017. Interesting period crime-drama about life on San Francisco's Barbary Coast. Cagney, in a more sympathetic role as sailor-turned-town boss, gives great, subdued performance, and even ends up with the girl. More enjoyable than 1936's "San Francisco."

18. Each Dawn I Die (1939)

Approved | 92 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

A corrupt D.A. with political ambitions is angered by news stories implicating him in criminal activity and decides to frame the reporter who wrote them for manslaughter in order to silence him.

Director: William Keighley | Stars: James Cagney, George Raft, Jane Bryan, George Bancroft

Votes: 2,592

September 2017. Another quality production from 1939. Engrossing prison drama unafraid to show the cruelty and injustice of the prison system. Cagney gives intense, emotional performance as framed reporter wrongly sent to jail, one of the best of his career. Real-life buddy George Raft gives strong support.

19. City for Conquest (1940)

Passed | 104 min | Drama, Music, Sport

Danny is a content truck driver, but his girl Peggy shows potential as a dancer and hopes he too can show ambition. Danny acquiesces and pursues boxing to please her, but the two begin to spend more time working than time together.

Directors: Anatole Litvak, Jean Negulesco | Stars: James Cagney, Ann Sheridan, Arthur Kennedy, Donald Crisp

Votes: 1,980

September 2017. Overlong melodrama that never quite decides on a tone or who is really the main character. Cagney great regardless as boxer who loses his sight for the sake of his overly-ambitious girlfriend Ann Sheridan.

20. The Time of Your Life (1948)

Approved | 109 min | Comedy, Drama

A wide variety of persons come into Nick's Pacific Street Saloon, some to ask for work and others just to pass the time.

Director: H.C. Potter | Stars: James Cagney, William Bendix, Wayne Morris, Jeanne Cagney

Votes: 1,026

September 2017. Stagey, meandering ensemble piece about misfits who frequent a second-string bar. Cagney great as genial loafer/philosopher. Worth watching only for him, his sister Jeanne, and scene of Cagney and Bendix singing harmony.

21. The Public Enemy (1931)

Not Rated | 83 min | Crime, Drama

A young hoodlum rises up through the ranks of the Chicago underworld, even as a gangster's accidental death threatens to spark a bloody mob war.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Edward Woods, Joan Blondell

Votes: 16,499

October 2017. Surprisingly untalky Pre-Code gangster talkie with noirish feel despite 1931 release. Off-camera deaths pack powerful punch. Cagney great as cold-hearted Chicago hoodlum Tom Powers, the role that made him famous. An unsympathetic turn until the final reel. Classic scenes of Cagney with grapefruit and him staggering through the gutter in the pouring rain, not to mention his brief dance with Jean Harlow.

22. White Heat (1949)

Not Rated | 114 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A psychopathic criminal with a mother complex makes a daring break from prison and leads his old gang in a chemical plant payroll heist.

Director: Raoul Walsh | Stars: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien, Margaret Wycherly

Votes: 26,247

October 2017. Cagney great as always as insane criminal leader Cody Jarrett, whose only soft spot is for his mother. His coldest-blooded role. Unlikable characters and literally explosive ending bring it down.

23. A Lion Is in the Streets (1953)

Approved | 88 min | Drama, Romance, Thriller

A charismatic peddler from the bayous finds his true calling in politics. Is he a demagogue in the making?

Director: Raoul Walsh | Stars: James Cagney, Barbara Hale, Anne Francis, Warner Anderson

Votes: 538

October 2017. Cagney good as always, despite being miscast as unlikable Louisiana peddler-turned-politician. Unfocused story makes it worth seeing only for his brief moments of singing and dancing, and his sister Jeanne's performance as Jennie.

24. Captains of the Clouds (1942)

Approved | 114 min | Action, Drama, War

Inspired by Churchill's Dunkirk speech, brash, undisciplined bush pilot Brian MacLean and three friends enlist in the RCAF but are deemed too old to be fliers.

Director: Michael Curtiz | Stars: James Cagney, Dennis Morgan, Brenda Marshall, Alan Hale

Votes: 1,281

November 2017. Cagney moving and charming as always, despite slightly unlikeable role as smart-aleck pilot, and limitations of propaganda/RAF promo film that is more about the planes than the people.

25. A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)

Approved | 133 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

Theseus, Duke of Athens, is going to marry Hyppolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Demetrius is engaged with Hermia, but Hermia loves Lysander. Helena loves Demetrius. Oberon and Titania, of the ... See full summary »

Directors: William Dieterle, Max Reinhardt | Stars: James Cagney, Dick Powell, Ian Hunter, Verree Teasdale

Votes: 2,948

November 2017. Cagney a delight as the hapless Bottom, a bright spot in an otherwise trippy and over-the-top film. His performance is broad but very funny, and more grounded than that of his ridiculously scene-chewing co-stars. Role gives him the chance to show off his talents as a singer and comedian as well as an actor; his physicality in the transformation and awkening scenes are worth the price of admission alone.

26. Johnny Come Lately (1943)

Approved | 97 min | Drama

Newspaper man wanders about and helps older woman save her paper.

Director: William K. Howard | Stars: James Cagney, Grace George, Marjorie Main, Marjorie Lord

Votes: 449

November 2017. Heartwarming turn-of-the-century comedy-drama about bum-turned-reporter who helps the old lady who takes him in. Fine performances all around, but Cagney shines in gentler role than normal.

27. 'G' Men (1935)

Approved | 85 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

It's the early days of the F.B.I. - federal agents working for the Department of Justice. Though they've got limited powers - they don't carry weapons and have to get local police approval ... See full summary »

Director: William Keighley | Stars: James Cagney, Margaret Lindsay, Ann Dvorak, Robert Armstrong

Votes: 3,285

November 2017. Top-shelf, well-paced crime drama glorifying the good guys rather than the bad. Less punchy than pre-Code but entertaining, with great script and a surprising amount of humor. Cagney more subdued in refreshing role on the other side of the law, but as charming and cocksure as ever.

28. The Crowd Roars (1932)

Passed | 85 min | Action, Drama, Sport

Sports car racer becomes overprotective of his brother when he decides to become a racer as well.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ann Dvorak, Eric Linden

Votes: 962

November 2017. Amazing special effects and thrilling race sequences can't save rushed WB melodrama that's too short on character development. Blondell and Cagney given too little to do, but he's good as alcoholic driver trying to protect younger brother.

29. The West Point Story (1950)

Approved | 107 min | Comedy, Music

A Broadway director helps the West Point cadets put on a show, aided by two lovely ladies and assorted complications.

Director: Roy Del Ruth | Stars: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Doris Day, Gordon MacRae

Votes: 1,074

November 2017. Fun, feel-good musical with Cagney in top form all around as Broadway producer forced into the army to get a show put on. All-star cast looks like they're really enjoying themselves, which spills over onto the rest of the film. Like "Footlight Parade," only better. One of Cagney's most enjoyable films. Great seeing him sing, dance, and even speak French.

30. The Oklahoma Kid (1939)

Passed | 85 min | Action, Adventure, History

During the Oklahoma Land Rush, the lawlessness is exacerbated by the McCord gang's feud with the Kincaids, who are trying to bring law and justice to the region.

Director: Lloyd Bacon | Stars: James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Rosemary Lane, Donald Crisp

Votes: 1,866

December 2017. Cagney and Bogart both strangely cast as cowboys, but do well in roles nonetheless, with Bogart as black-hatted baddie and Cagney the do-gooder taking the law in his own hands. Typical Western plot, but can't miss Cagney singing, dancing, riding, playing the guitar, and even speaking Spanish!

31. Sinners' Holiday (1930)

Passed | 60 min | Crime, Romance

Ma Delano (La Verne) runs a boardwalk penny arcade, living upstairs with her sons (Cagney and Gallagher) and daughter (Knapp). Story involves rum running, accidental murder and a frame-up.

Director: John G. Adolfi | Stars: Grant Withers, Lucille La Verne, Warren Hymer, James Cagney

Votes: 461

December 2017. Cagney and Blondell's film debut in the roles they originated on Broadway. Stagey quality, but surprisingly good performances. Cagney plays more of a wimpy mama's boy character than he would later, but breakdown scene harbinger of things to come.

32. Hard to Handle (1933)

Approved | 78 min | Comedy, Romance

Small time con artist Lefty Merrill has co-organized a crooked dance marathon and set-up his girlfriend to win the prize money. When his partner disappears with money before the contest is ... See full summary »

Director: Mervyn LeRoy | Stars: James Cagney, Mary Brian, Allen Jenkins, Ruth Donnelly

Votes: 613

December 2017. Cagney a scream as fast-talking promoter/con artist in fresh, enjoyable Pre-code romp. Comedy handled nicely by director Mervyn LeRoy. Cagney more subdued and vulnerable than usual, but his athleticism is still on show, particularly in running-down-the-stairs scene. Worth seeing again.

33. Torrid Zone (1940)

Approved | 88 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

Plagued by revolutionaries that harass his plantation in a banana republic, fruit company exec Steve Case rehires former nemesis Nick Butler to restore order and profits.

Director: William Keighley | Stars: James Cagney, Ann Sheridan, Pat O'Brien, Andy Devine

Votes: 1,142

January 2018. Slow start and different yet unfocused story make it seem longer than it is, but Cagney, even as second-fiddle to O'Brian, has great chemistry with lady cardsharp Ann Sheridan. Better than "The Lady Eve" but not worth rewatching.

34. Mister Roberts (1955)

Not Rated | 123 min | Comedy, Drama, War

In the waning days of World War II, the United States Navy cargo ship Reluctant and her crew are stationed in the "backwater" areas of the Pacific Ocean. Trouble ensues when the crew members are granted liberty.

Directors: John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy, Joshua Logan | Stars: Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell, Jack Lemmon

Votes: 14,571 | Gross: $21.20M

February 2018. Dull, slow-moving war film enlivened only by Cagney's electric performance in supporting role as Captain Morton.

35. The Fighting 69th (1940)

Passed | 90 min | Action, Adventure, Biography

Although loudmouthed braggart Jerry Plunkett alienates his comrades and officers, Father Duffy, the regimental chaplain, has faith that he'll prove himself in the end.

Director: William Keighley | Stars: James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, George Brent, Jeffrey Lynn

Votes: 1,647

March 2018. Gritty, realistic, but surprisingly character-driven WWI drama based on the real-life "Fighting Irish" 69th Regiment. Strong, moving performances by largely Irish-American cast, including Cagney as a smart-aleck coward who turns hero. Great to see him scrapping and speaking Yiddish.

36. 13 Rue Madeleine (1946)

Approved | 95 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

When spy chief Bob Sharkey finds out one of his agents-in-training is actually a Nazi double agent, his strategic decision not to arrest him results in tragedy.

Director: Henry Hathaway | Stars: James Cagney, Annabella, Richard Conte, Frank Latimore

Votes: 2,557

April 2018. Cagney great as always as gutsy American spy leader forced to enter Nazi-occupied France to liberate them. Plenty of action and even a scene speaking German. Fatalistic atmosphere and senseless end for Cagney bring it down.

37. These Wilder Years (1956)

Approved | 91 min | Drama

A middle-aged man tries to reconnect with his illegitimate son, who was given to an orphanage many years ago.

Director: Roy Rowland | Stars: James Cagney, Barbara Stanwyck, Walter Pidgeon, Betty Lou Keim

Votes: 833

July 2018. Cagney gives strong, subdued performance in sensitive film about a steel tycoon trying to find his illegitimate son after twenty years. Slightly disappointing ending. Stanwyck great opposite him, though.

38. The Doorway to Hell (1930)

Passed | 78 min | Crime, Drama

Despite his efforts to go straight, a young gangster keeps falling back into crime.

Director: Archie Mayo | Stars: Lew Ayres, James Cagney, Charles Judels, Dorothy Mathews

Votes: 882

August 2018. Cagney plays second fiddle to Lew Ayres' brooding, baby-faced gang leader, but stands out nonetheless in great pre-"Public Enemy" performance. Stylishly directed and surprisingly untalky early talkie. Great to see a pre-"Dracula" Dwight Frye as a gangster!

39. Starlift (1951)

Approved | 103 min | Musical

To impress a movie star, a U.S. Air Force crewman pretends he is soon to see combat. When his lie gets out, chaos ensues.

Director: Roy Del Ruth | Stars: Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Virginia Mayo, Gene Nelson

Votes: 376

December 2018. Cagney great in brief but cute cameo as himself. Rest of movie not worth watching.

40. Boy Meets Girl (1938)

Approved | 86 min | Comedy

Two screenwriters in a rut come up with a story idea starring a bankable cowboy and the baby of the studio's waitress.

Director: Lloyd Bacon | Stars: James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Marie Wilson, Ralph Bellamy

Votes: 525

December 2018. Cagney and O'Brian a hoot as over-the-top, Marx-brothers-esque writers in over-the-top spoof of Hollywood. Thin on plot, but plenty of witty laughs and Cagney's signature athleticism.

41. Tribute to a Bad Man (1956)

Passed | 95 min | Drama, Romance, Western

With no law within 200 miles horse rancher Jeremy Rodak runs his spread with an iron hand and deals with rustlers even more ruthlessly.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: James Cagney, Don Dubbins, Stephen McNally, Irene Papas

Votes: 1,239

March 2019. Cagney gives great, nuanced performance as a horse rancher out for revenge in different, more character-driven Western. Beautiful scenery, and great to see Cagney show his love of horses!

42. Shake Hands with the Devil (1959)

Not Rated | 111 min | Action, Drama, History

In 1920s Ireland, I.R.A. members are being lead by the war mongering Dr. Sean Lenihan (James Cagney), as they fight oppressive British forces.

Director: Michael Anderson | Stars: James Cagney, Don Murray, Dana Wynter, Glynis Johns

Votes: 1,070

March 2019. Cagney gives an intense performance as trigger-happy Irish IRA leader in violent, moody film, shot on location, about the Troubles of the 1920's. Only worth watching for his scenes, and to hear his Irish accent.

43. The Irish in Us (1935)

Approved | 84 min | Comedy

Two brothers, a police officer and a boxing promoter, vie for the affections of a lovely young woman.

Director: Lloyd Bacon | Stars: James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Olivia de Havilland, Frank McHugh

Votes: 558

April 2019. Lively (if slight) family comedy about Irish mother and her three grown boys, with script allegedly enlivened by cast's ad libbing. Cagney has great chemistry with Mary Gordon as Ma, gets to show off his boxing skills, and gets the girl. Worth watching again.

44. The Gallant Hours (1960)

Approved | 115 min | Biography, Drama, War

A semi-documentary dramatization of five weeks in the life of Vice Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey, Jr., from his assignment to command the U.S. naval operations in the South Pacific to the Allied victory at Guadalcanal.

Director: Robert Montgomery | Stars: James Cagney, Dennis Weaver, Ward Costello, Vaughn Taylor

Votes: 1,288

June 2019. Cagney gives great, subtle performance as real-life Admiral Halsey in slow-moving but unusual war film that focuses more on the behind-the-scenes of Guadalcanal than the battles themselves.

45. Picture Snatcher (1933)

Not Rated | 77 min | Drama, Crime

Ex-convict Danny Kean decides to become honest as a photographer for a paper. He falls in love with Patricia, the daughter of the policeman who arrested him. Mr Nolan, her father, doesn't ... See full summary »

Director: Lloyd Bacon | Stars: James Cagney, Ralph Bellamy, Patricia Ellis, Alice White

Votes: 1,293

December 2019. Cagney great as clever ex-con trying to make an "honest" living putting his wiles to good use as a tabloid photographer. Fresh and surpringly racy Pre-Code film.