Saturday, July 16, 2011

James Cagney: Top of the World

James Cagney was a vibrant screen presence and one of the top stars in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Known mostly for his roles as a gangster in films like The Public Enemy and White Heat he was also a wonderful dancer from his early days in Vaudeville, which he demonstrated in his Oscar winning turn in Yankee Doodle Dandy. As tough in real life as on screen, yet kind and gentlehearted, he was a family man who saw acting as a way to pay the bills and sought a more simple life. He fought the studios, founded the Screen Actors Guild, and contributed to worker's rights. James Cagney: Top of the World is a tribute to his life and work by family members, coworkers, and friends. Hosted by Michael J. Fox, it is not the finest written documentary with Fox uttering phrases that sound as if they were written by one of Cagney's characters (Now Cagney was never the type to take nothin' from nobody see). Still, it is a pleasure to go through clips of Jimmy's career, who probably had the most screen presence of any actor ever.