Sunday, November 4, 2012

CITY FOR CONQUEST (1940)

Hmmm...despite the fact this movie came in TCM's "Greatest Gangster Films" collection and the title kinda implies that there's some kind of conquesting of a city going on, CITY FOR CONQUEST isn't a gangster film.  Sure there's a few gangster's involved around the edges of the story, but the main story is about a simple man (Cagney) who is in love with his childhood sweetheart (Sheridan) and she with him.  Unfortunately she has stars in her eyes and dreams of being a famous dancer with her name in lights.  Cagney has a knack for boxing but he doesn't want anything to do with it, but once it becomes apparent that the only way to make his "gurl" happy is to make some dough he agrees to do some professional boxing.  At the same time Ann is being lured into the clutches of dance floor stud Anthony Quinn.

There were a few moments that I really enjoyed CFC (the big fight, all the early tough guy scenes with Cagney), but for me the story was just too sappy and predictable.  There was a hobo/guardian angel character who did an intro, outro and a few commentaries in between that could have been completely left out since all he did was treat the audience like we were fucking idiots.  The whole thing about Cagney's sensitive friend (Kennedy) was forced and slowed down the story.  Also the results of the big fight were so telegraphed that when it finally happened I had zero emotional feelings towards it.  Actually I kinda felt negative about Cagney since not only is Quinn making him look like a pussy by openly womanizing Sheridan, but now he's allowing the other boxing team to openly cheat and cause him great bodily harm!  Fuck that shit!  It's time to put your big girl panties on and show these mothergrabbers who's boss!

Good cast and a nice story idea that's severely hampered by a poor script.  Although according to Cagney's autobiography what they filmed was much better than the severely edited finished product.  He was so disappointed in it that not only did he write a personal apology letter to the source material's author, Aben Kandel, but he also rarely watches his own movies after seeing CITY FOR CONQUEST!   Not really worth watching and most definitely not a gangster flick.  Skip it.
Uncredited Ward Bond.

Uncredited Charles Lane, who you might remember from TWENTIETH CENTURY.

Joyce Compton.