Crowd Roars, The (1932)

Crowd Roars, The (1932)

“That guy of yours thinks ’cause he’s riding in a one-seater he’s riding alone — he doesn’t know that you’re covering every lap of every race with him!”

Champion car racer Joe Greer (James Cagney) tries to protect his younger brother Eddie (Eric Linden) from a life of booze, cars, and women. But Eddie is determined to become a racer, and soon falls in love with the friend (Joan Blondell) of Joe’s girlfriend, Lee (Ann Dvorak).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Ann Dvorak Films
  • Car Racing
  • Downward Spiral
  • Howard Hawks Films
  • Jimmy Cagney Films
  • Joan Blondell Films
  • Maureen O’Sullivan Films
  • Morality Police
  • Rivalry
  • Siblings

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this early Howard Hawks film — while ostensibly yet another movie about “men of action” — is actually a “tribute to the women who stick by men in dangerous professions, and, when they are finally treated as equals, give the men needed support, love, and direction.” Indeed, The Crowd Roars gives enormous credence to the age-old dictum that behind every successful man is a woman: without the unconditional love and support of his selfless girlfriend, Cagney quickly goes downhill; and once Linden falls in love with Blondell, his fame and fortune skyrocket. Cagney is fine here in one of his earliest leading roles, but it’s Joan Blondell who truly shines: this wonderful comedic actress enlivens every film she’s in, including this one.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • James Cagney as the well-meaning but wrong-headed racer
  • Joan Blondell as Eddie’s love interest
  • Ann Dvorak as Joe’s hopelessly loyal girlfriend
  • An interesting time-capsule glimpse at early motor car racing

Must See?
No, though it’s a must for fans of Jimmy Cagney and/or Joan Blondell.


One thought on “Crowd Roars, The (1932)

  1. Not a must.

    Having just revisited ‘The Lusty Men’, it’s a curious thing to take another look at ‘The Crowd Roars’ – in many ways, the same film. Both are about men in dangerous professions…and the women who love such men.

    However, ‘TCR’ seems to house a conscious effort on the part of the filmmakers to maintain the interest of female audiences – strangely, above that of the males. Though there are a few lengthy racing sequences (some with startling moments; some with amusing ones, since close-ups mandate rear projection of all other drivers), the emphasis here is on affairs of the heart. We learn much less re: details of the lifestyle of the drivers than we do about those of the rodeo men of ‘TLM’. And though the women in both films are equally important, ‘TCR’ stresses the melodrama of relationships – whereas, ‘TLM’ presents them more realistically.

    Of course, ‘TCR’ is a product of its time. More than ‘TLM’, it was designed to get people into the theater for a different kind of slice-of-life tale. Unfortunately, it doesn’t hold up all that well today.

    The actors are all fine – the leads in particular, as they all succeed in rising above the material. Cagney is sturdy, of course – and Blondell (ya gotta love her!) shows she’s very adept at making wordy dialogue work.

    The bottom line of my film-type comparison: ‘The Lusty Men’ is about two hours and feels short; ‘The Crowd Roars’ is about 1/2-hour shorter and feels long.

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