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TomJH

Bogart Vs. Cagney Vs. Robinson

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The AFI listing is NOT a rating on 'best actor' but takes into account all facets of an actor's career.

 

This is why Monroe is listed in AFI's top 25 actresses and Olivia DeHavilland isn't.

 

 

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crazyblonde and helenbaby, I agree that popularity contest polling and calling someone Number One doesn't do much except provide fans with an opportunity to debate.

 

My response to Andy was simply to point out that, based on the quality of his films, Bogart is not a ridiculous pick by the AFI. He's as good a pick as any of a number of a half dozen or so stars, I suppose.

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Sheesh! I'm not putting Cagney down--he's my favorite actor of all times. I'm just saying that Tracy had a long career with a variety of roles, many of them in imprtant films and that if I were the one picking AFI's 100 years 100 stars, he's the one I'd put at the top of the list, not Bogart. And what exactly do you mean abour "all facets" of their careers? It's just some tv show where people voted on movie stars whose careers began prior to 1950.

 

Again, this is not a putdown of Cagney. I have nothing against him. He's my ABSOLUTE Favorite Actor of all time.

 

Edited by: helenbaby on Jul 14, 2013 3:58 PM

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Well based on how AFI determines who is in their top listing I would pick Bogart and than Wayne. (and I'm no fan of Wayne).

 

I wouldn't question anyone picking Tracy as the best American actor of his generation but again the AFI ranking is NOT about who were the best actors.

 

(because I think few would say that Monroe has given better performances than DeHavilland).

 

BUT Monroe is iconic.

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Here are a few candid shots of James Cagney:

 

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Cagney as a female impersonator in his vaudeville days. To Jimmy, it was just another gig.

 

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That's Jimmy with his wife, "Billie," and Joan Blondell mugging at the piano. Jimmy and Billie would be married for 64 years until his death in 1986.

 

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Jimmy and the comics: Harpo Marx, Buster Keaton, George Burns

 

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They were known as the "Irish Mafia": Cagney with pals Pat O'Brien, Frank McHugh and Spencer Tracy. In contrast to his screen image, Jimmy was, for the most part, a quiet, gentle man. It was Pat O'Brien who was a natural extrovert with a positive, upbeat attitude. One of the key roles in Cagney's career that he wanted but failed to get went, instead, to O'Brien: the title role in Knute Rockne, All American (1940).

 

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Cagney practising judo moves. I believe this shot was in preparation for his role in Blood on the Sun,1945.

 

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Cagney loved his horses.

 

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On the set of Mr. Roberts. Here's a shot of a collection of some of the most likable actors you could hope to find: Cagney, William Powell, Henry Fonda, Ward Bond, Jack Lemmon. Oh, yes, and Dog.

 

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Cagney with Lauren Bacall and his friend Al Hackett at the National Board of Review Motion Picture Awards. January 19, 1982.

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Tom, Thanks! Could you post a picture of Cagney with Loretta Young[Taxi], with June Travis[ Ceiling Zero], and with Madge Evans[Mayor of Hell]. I think these 3 Cagney movies and their leading ladies are always left out. I Love these 3 Cagney movies and the leading ladies in them. Cagney had Great chemistry with them. Speaking of his leading ladies-Loretta Young, June Travis and Joan Blondell admitted to being in love with Cagney!

 

 

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Cagney's movies from the 30's and 40's were big box office hits and a couple from the 50's were. I do not think Bogarts were a better quality, there just different type of movies. I do feel Cagney, Spencer Tracey,Edward G. and a couple of others were better actors than Bogart. I have nothing against Bogart. I like him and most of his movies. And believe it or not I hate Casablanca. Cagney got a couple of big honors/awards and maybe others felt someone else should have received them instead of him. I know a few famous people who worked on the board of an award show. It's all who you know. Steve Mcqueen was suppose to win for Papillon and they didn't give it to him because he took Ali MacGraw away from her husband who was big at Paramount at the time.

 

 

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I'm not saying that Bogart didn't appear in a very strong colledtion of films. My question is why he was given all these roles.

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> {quote:title=TomJH wrote:}{quote}Andy, it's apparent that Bogart is not one of your very favourite stars. The same with finance.

>

> Even though as I stated in my original posting Cagney is my favourite of the three actors, off hand I can't think of another male star of the 1940s who appeared in a stronger collection of films than Bogart.

>

>

> Aside from bonafide classics like Maltese Falcon, Casablanca and Treasure of the Sierra Madre, take a look at some of the other titles: High Sierra, Across the Pacific, Sahara, To Have and Have Not (which undoubtedly many regard as a classic), Big Sleep (ditto on that previous classic comment), Dark Passage, Key Largo.

>

>

> And that's just the '40s alone, without touching on the fact that Bogie had a far stronger career than most of the top male stars of the '30s and '40s during the '50s, as well, in spite of the fact that death cut it short for him sooner than almost anyone else.

>

>

> That's a pretty impressive list of titles, in my opinion. Whether he deserves to be ranked as #1 I don't even want to go near because I wouldn't know who to pick myself. But if someone had to get it, the quality of those films certainly helps. And, let's face it, Bogart was an integral part of the success of those films, too.

>

Just to be slightly less unclear, Bogart *is* one of my favorite actors, somewhere near the bottom of my informal Top Ten.

 

Excluding my two favorites (Mifune and Gabin) because of their nationality, my top 10 male actors would probably be something like Lancaster, Mitchum, Kirk Douglas (even though I *hate* Bible epics and costume dramas), Pacino, Robert Ryan, Widmark, Robinson, Cagney, Bogart, and Glenn Ford or Gable. But if you ask me in a month I'd probably scramble the order and maybe add a few and take out a few. The problem is that there are just too damn many great actors to make any final definitive ranking, and anyway, as we all know, the whole ranking game itself is almost completely subjective..

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*Andy wrote:* {font:arial, helvetica, sans-serif}*The problem is that there are just too damn many great actors to make any final definitive ranking, and anyway, as we all know, the whole ranking game itself is almost completely subjective..*

 

I couldn't agree more. I was just offering a possible explanation for the selection of Bogart. Let's put it this way, no matter who is selected Number One there will be an outcry from admirers/fans of other stars. Bogart is as deserving of that honour as anyone, I think. But if a Tracy or a Cagney or a Grant had been selected, instead, so be it, as far as I'm concerned. (Though I still tend to stick by my statement that Bogie's collection of films is pretty darned hard to top).{font}

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> {quote:title=TomJH wrote:}{quote}*Andy wrote:* *The problem is that there are just too damn many great actors to make any final definitive ranking, and anyway, as we all know, the whole ranking game itself is almost completely subjective..*

>

> I couldn't agree more. I was just offering a possible explanation for the selection of Bogart. Let's put it this way, no matter who is selected Number One there will be an outcry from admirers/fans of other stars. Bogart is as deserving of that honour as anyone, I think. But if a Tracy or a Cagney or a Grant had been selected, instead, so be it, as far as I'm concerned. (Though I still tend to stick by my statement that Bogie's collection of films is pretty darned hard to top).

Well, when I crunch the numbers I see I've got 54 Bogarts on DVD, which tops everyone except Barbara Stanwyck (61) and Bette Davis (55). So unless the zombies slip into those two dames' graves and pull a pair of gender switches, I guess that Bogey is as good a choice as any for top male actor. B-)

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*finance wrote: I'm not saying that Bogart didn't appear in a very strong colledtion of films. My question is why he was given all these roles.*

 

Well, at the beginning it was just dumb luck for Bogart. He only got the two roles in High Sierra and Maltese Falcon after some other actors, but in particular, George Raft, had turned down the parts. (John Huston later spoke of how he was personally delighted when the part of Sam Spade fell to Bogart, virtually by default).

 

And that was how Bogart's career turned around on a dime, by the strong critical and box office reception to those two 1941 films and his performances in them. After Casablanca cemented his stardom, casting him for the first time as a romantic figure, Bogart, jumping from the ranks of supporting player just two years before, became Warners top male star at the box office.

 

Cagney left them in 1942 to go independent, as would John Garfield in 1946 (not that Garfield's star status was ever as great as that of Cagney). Flynn's career began to go into a gradual decline which would increase after the war. Bogie was really it at Warners at that time, so they starting purchasing properties, such as To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep, which would work well with his persona. Unlike the previous years, Bogart was now getting groomed by the studio so the quality of the projects offered to him naturally improved.

 

Just think, if it wasn't for George Raft's poor decision making in 1941 it might not have ever happened for Bogart. He might have always been cast in supporting mug parts.

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Your point about Bogart's dumb luck in getting those High Sierra and Maltese Falcon roles suggests an interesting question: Just how many actors or actresses have been the beneficiaries of similar good fortune? The answer almost surely must run at least into the dozens.

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Andy, I hsve 64 Cagney films on dvd and about the same amount for Bing Crosby. Also all of Steve Mcqueen's films on DVD. I have maybe 3 Bogart films on DVD. So I guess Ifeel differently from you. Anyway Cagney don't need that AFI honor he had more honors than Bogart on a whole.

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> {quote:title=crazyblonde7 wrote:}{quote}Andy, I hsve 64 Cagney films on dvd and about the same amount for Bing Crosby. Also all of Steve Mcqueen's films on DVD. I have maybe 3 Bogart films on DVD. So I guess Ifeel differently from you.

Apparently so. I've 32 Cagneys and look forward to getting more, but the next Crosby DVD I acquire will be my first, and that would be used only to keep the moths out of my closet.

 

But if the AFI had put Cagney at the top of its list, that would've been OK by me, too. Love the Jimster. :)

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crazyblonde, here are a few pix you asked for:

 

Taxi (1932), with Loretta Young. This is the film in which Cagney at one point yelled at a character "Come out and take it, you dirty yellow-bellied rat, or I'll give it to you through the door!" Presumably, this is the line that evolved over the years into "You dirty rat," much to the joy of thousands of Cagney imitators.

 

Aside from that, Taxi is a fast and breezy comedy-drama, one of Cagney's best pre-code films, in my opinion. Loretta Young is a surprisingly feisty leading lady playing against a Cagney whose character is even more hot tempered than usual.

 

There's a scene towards the end of Taxi that I always thought was significant. It's the one in which the "yellow-bellied rat" dialogue is used. Cagney has an opponent cornered, he believes, behind a locked closet door. Cagney, even though he's the film's "hero," is still ready, if necessary, to shoot through the door to get that man, screaming at him to come out first. You can see that he has built himself up to an almost uncontrollable rage.

 

When cops suddenly burst into the room (presumably, the audience assumes, saving the film's hero from himself by committing murder) Cagney hides his gun. When the cops then realize that the wanted man they want as much as does Cagney is inside the closet, Cagney, thinking that his opportunity to get him is about to slip away, grabs his gun and immediately fires four or five bullets through the door.

 

What is startling about this scene is the fact that Cagney is, again, the film's hero, for whom the audience is rooting. Yet his character truly goes over the top in this hysterical moment. You could say that Cagney temporarily goes nuts. Cagney and the screenwriters allow the audience to see the dark side of his character, even if only for a minute. (Plot contrivances will arrange a "happy" ending).

 

 

 

 

 

 

This scene in Taxi provided a glimpse of the psychotic Cagney that would be allowed full reign 17 years later when he made White Heat.

 

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The above shot never actually appeared in the film

 

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Mayor of Hell (1933), with Madge Evans. A social conscience drama, remade with Bogart as Crime School five years later.

 

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Ceiling Zero (1936), with June Travis. This intelligent Howard Hawks-directed adaption of a stage success remains one of Cagney's best co-starring efforts with Pat O'Brien. Unfortunately, it is now tied up in copyright litigation, preventing its broadcast on TCM.

 

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Taxi is a very entertaining movie but it is a fairly standard WB early 30s production with Cagney playing a very typical not to bright, brash and prone to violence dude, with all the characters going all out in its 69 minutes running time.

 

Tom as you noted (but I hope I'm not putting words in your mouth), the 40s Bogart WB productions (well not just Bogie's WB movies but many 40s movies in general as well) were of a higher quality than those 30s 'programmers'.

 

I see something similar with Bette Davis when one compares her late 30s and early 40s WB productions with those made before, say, 1937 or so.

 

So what I miss with Cagney is that when movie production values were raised during the 40s, Cagney leaves WB and he isn't involved in the type of 40s productions in the class of a The Best Years of Our Live (note; I'm NOT saying Cagney should of played one of the roles in this movie. I'm only using it as an example of a 40's movie that stands above 30s 'programmers').

 

 

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James, first of all I want to say that, for the most part, I love Cagney's pre-code films. They were fast and often funny, and Cagney showed more energy during that time than he ever would again. Watch him in Hard to Handle, as a motor mouth con artist, for example or in Jimmy the Gent or Lady Killer, or, for that matter, Taxi, which may be my favourite of them all. He's got this mile-a-minute dialogue delivery, plus those quirky little facial and body, and even just hand gestures that I think mark him as a one of the great comic joys of the pre-code period.

 

Having said that, a lot of the reason that Cagney does those extra "bits of business" in his scenes (which the studio allowed him to do because they noticed that his improvisation improved the scenes) is because Cagney didn't think much of the scripts. Most of those films, ranging from Picture Snatcher to Hard to Handle to Winner Take All to Taxi, were shot in a matter of days, sometimes as little as just two weeks. They were cheap quickies (full of energy, mind you) but still quickies, and Cagney was not particularly pleased with them. Obviously, the grind at Warners was exhausting for everyone to keep working in that factory atmosphere at such a relentless pace by their whip cracking masters. No wonder so many performers at Warners had rebellious personalities, Cagney chief among them.

 

This is my very long winded way of saying that you're right. Cagney's big luxurious productions really started after he had a two year hiatus from the studio, returning in 1938 to make Boy Meets Girl and then, a biggie, Angels with Dirty Faces. Yet just four years later Cagney was gone from the studio where, whether he realized it or not, he was doing the best stuff of his career. Take a look at Roaring 20s or City for Conquest (which personally disappointed him) or Strawberry Blonde. Terrific stuff with Cagney some kind of acting/personality genius propelling those films forward even more.

 

He went independent with his brother and therefore lost out in appearing in what may have been some marvelous opportunities for him. Wartime audiences lost out as well. Captains of the Clouds, which I rather enjoy, was the only war drama Cagney made. Can you imagine what a jewel Cagney would have been as a progaganda weapon with that personality and energy drive of his if he had been fighting the enemy on screen?

 

But more important than that, as you say, James, Warners was making some high gloss films during the '40s that Cagney missed out on. What we can be grateful for, though, is that before he split from the studio, we do have the films from what I regard as the golden period of Cagney's career, from Angels with Dirty Faces in 1938 to Yankee Doodle Dandy in 1942.

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>And believe it or not I hate Casablanca.

 

Yeah, cb. I can certainly understand that. Ya see, while I've never personally been there, the people I know who HAVE really didn't have that much good to say about the place.

 

'Cause you CERTAINLY couldn't be talkin' the the MOVIE here, what with ALL the actors in top form(especially Bogie), the superlative dialogue, the excellent directing, and with the musical score being the perfect compliment to all the goings on.

 

(...nope, you CERTAINLY couldn't be talkin' about the MOVIE here, RIGHT?!)

 

-smirk-

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>my top 10 male actors would probably be something like Lancaster, Mitchum, Kirk Douglas (even though I hate Bible epics and costume dramas), Pacino, Robert Ryan, Widmark, Robinson, Cagney, Bogart, and Glenn Ford or Gable.

 

Just one question here, Andy:

 

How the heck did the rather "blah" or "bland" Mr. Glenn Ford make your "Top 10 List" here, my friend?

 

Now, no offense, and while I have never had anything AGAINST the man and think he's usually fairly "adequate" in his roles...but c'mon now..."GLENN FORD"???

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Uh huh...OR I take it, a movie starring that "hot" Bing Crosby guy TOO, eh?!

 

LOL

 

(...sorry, but of all the movies I could count that I think of as "boring", this one would never come up on MY list, and I got me a feelin' there's probably millions of folks who would feel the same way as I do...and THAT'S 'cause of all those reasons I listed down there, and which given time I'm SURE I could come up with a dozen more...nope, sorry, "boring"?...NEVER!!!)

 

Edited by: Dargo2 on Jul 15, 2013 12:53 PM

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Just a note ... for those of you who haven't read "Cagney on Cagney," Jimmy's autobiography, please do. It's a wonderful book and gives you a really good look at the man himself, personally and movie-related. His ability to handle his life was learned from his mother and his brothers and sister, and his attitudes toward Warners and others are down-to-earth and sensible.

 

My favorite story in it is when he talks about having learned how to fight in the streets of New York. He said once a guy began ragging him in a stadium after the game, telling him he wasn't so tough, etc. etc. Jimmy let him talk, and then said, "Look how stupid you are. You're standing there threatening me, with your back to a concrete stairway." The guy looked around and turned white. One push and he would have been at the bottom of the stairs with God knows how many bones broken, or maybe dead.

 

A friend of mine has his gloves from "Ceiling Zero." He had very short fingers, apparently, but he wasn't very big, was he?

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