The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

GREAT GUY (1936) ** ½

James Cagney stars as a worker for The Department of Weights and Measures. When his boss is severely injured in an accident, Cagney takes over his job. He goes around the city shaking crooked businesses down that cheat their customers. Cagney is bribed by gangsters to turn a blind eye to the rampant corruption. He then sets out to take the gangsters head-on and clean up the city.

I’m not sure that the life of the head of The Department of Weights and Measures is as exciting and interesting as this movie makes it out to be. Cagney plays the role like he’s Elliot Ness or something. When Cagney catches a butcher putting lead weights inside of chickens to increase the price, he slaps him around. Is this believable at all? Probably not, but it is pretty entertaining.

I mean was there really a rash of businesses scamming their customers with crooked scales in the ‘30s? I guess The Depression was harder than I thought. Maybe this sort of high-risk job was phased out once they started publishing Consumer Reports.

This is one weird idea for a movie, but I sort of dug it. Although it gets off to a good start, the film stalls once Cagney is framed by the gangsters and has to clear his name. Even at 66 minutes, it still feels a bit long too. Cagney is really good though, and Mae Clark (from Frankenstein) makes for a solid love interest.

AKA: Pluck of the Irish.

Tags: drama, g


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