“Okay, canary — start singin’!”
After outing a corrupt gubernatorial candidate and his assistant (Victor Jory), an investigative journalist (James Cagney) is framed for manslaughter and sent to prison, where he meets a gangster (George Raft) who promises to help him clear his name but reneges on this promise once he escapes. Will Cagney’s loyal girlfriend (Jane Bryan) help keep Raft accountable to his commitment, or will Cagney remain unjustly imprisoned for the rest of his life?
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- George Bancroft Films
- George Raft Films
- James Cagney Films
James Cagney and George Raft’s only film together was this unusual gangster flick about loyalty and honor among criminals, journalists, and politicians. It swiftly showcases the relentless corruption of politicians willing to do anything to get or remain elected, ultimately landing on the side of the underdog (in this case, journalists and mistreated prisoners). While the storyline is a tad over-complicated, and we can guess what the outcome will ultimately be, there’s sufficient tension and atmospheric cinematography along the way to hold one’s interest, and the prison scenes feel reasonably authentic. The final shoot-out is especially well handled.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- James Cagney as Frank Ross
- Arthur Edeson’s cinematography
- The excitingly filmed prison shoot-out finale
No, though it’s worth a look.