“I’d have quit long ago if that horse didn’t have such interesting teeth.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Since we know Cagney didn’t end up with Hayworth, the story of how and why his romantic intent failed — as well as the story behind his recent past as a “jailbird” — inform the twist-filled narrative, in which most people aren’t quite what they seem (some for the worse, some for the better). While she’s not the title character, Olivia de Havilland stands out as the most memorable and sassy female in the film, and is given numerous fun lines; she’s nicely filmed by James Wong Howe, who offers stand-out cinematography as usual. Cagney’s character is a bit of an enigma — given his lifelong dreams of dentistry, would he really accept a random job from Carson without hesitation? — but at least we see him evolving, and the overall moral of the story is a satisfying one.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: