James Cagney’s Five Best Movies in Cinema


A film that allowed James Cagney to give one of his best and most curious performances, in a mega ultra super patriotic musical, which should be noted, was planned and made as American war propaganda during the Second World War.

Does this take away its worth? A little, but it does not take away the freshness and good tragicomic direction of Curtiz, at the order of a biographical story about the vaudeville George M. Cohan, creator of the American anthem “Over There”. The film, for obvious reasons, has matured poorly (except for Cagney’s acting and Oscar), but it remains a film example of above-average jingoistic advertising.


One of the first gangster films in history (and the fourth in the actor’s career), which laid the foundations of the genre and established its star, James Cagney, who superbly plays a misfit and macho young man in the 1920s (during the time of prohibition) he became the most wanted mobster by justice and who only had a great love for his mother. This film is considered one of the 52 film noir films in American cinema and was nominated for the Oscar Award for Best Screenplay. Without a doubt, a must-see film for lovers of the genre.


Once again Cagney played a war veteran, who after his return only finds his way to the underworld through liquor smuggling to solve his economic problems. Meeting of two greats of the genre: Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. The story, the direction, and the acting of its notable protagonists make it one of the most recognized films by critics during that decade. Along with “Public Enemy” and “Alma Negra”, it is considered one of the most representative gangster films of the black cinema of its time and in history.


Once again, famed director Walsh and Cagney would reunite to give us another film noir classic, in which Cagney demonstrates that gangster characters suit him like a glove. One might think that he was typecast in the character, but the variety in his interpretation is what makes this actor notable, denoting great dramatic registers and representing both this and all his roles, with great sensitivity and complexity in growth and their psychological development. Once again a script was nominated for the Oscar award, which is in the first place of films of the genre.


With a luxury cast, Curtiz achieves what for some is his best film after “Casablanca.” The director had a script rich in nuances and sincerity of content in the story of childhood friends who take different paths, one becoming a priest and the other a gangster who are confronted by various circumstances. The characters are drawn with depth and coherence and the photography offers a superb play of contrasts of diverse blacks and grays, which become oppressive towards the end of the work. It is one of the best films of the genre, with Cagney in a state of grace, offering one of the best performances of his career. The film was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Direction.