Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)

Shoulder Driving

This movie works, and it interests me why.

Regular readers of my comments know that I am on a grand quest to map all the introspective and complex folding tricks used to ensnare viewers. I’m convinced they are important.

But along comes something like this that is so simple and pure, it throws all my obsessions with complexity into a cocked hat.

This is so exceedingly simple and sappy and dumb and ordinary and stupidly moralising that all of us would discard it if it were not for one thing: Cagney’s character. And not even the fact that he created a character in the usual whole sense. Instead, he created a character acting a character (so I suppose there is folding after all).

Cagney was essentially a dancer and here, he does some somewhat obvious posturing, especially the shoulder reset tick.

Can one motion carry a movie, even carry it into permanence? Yes, it seems so. Yes.

Posted in 2005

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *